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Last updated: April 11, 2022
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If you have a pond, you need to have a way to keep the water circulated for optimum airflow. This will keep your fish and aquatic plant life well-oxygenated, and will also increase the beauty of your pond. But choosing a pump isn’t just about picking what’s most powerful. You should consider other factors, such as the electricity the pump will use, the gallons per hour the pump will be able to circulate, and lift height.
The best pond pump we found in all of our testing is the Tetra Pond Debris-Handling Pump. It is the most cost-effective pump without sacrificing power, and will easily handle ponds that need circulation up to a shocking 3000-gallon capacity. It’s also very energy-efficient. We have also chosen four other incredible pond pumps, including those with the best warranty, the best budget pump, and more.
For our reviews, we considered a number of determining factors, including the capacities of pond pumps, the sizing options available, the materials the pumps are constructed of, the power of the motors, the manufacturer warranties, and more. We have a table of our top picks, followed by in-depth reviews of each pump. Following that, we’ve provided a buying guide full of great tips and features to look for during your next pond pump purchase. But first, we’ll take a look at the top five best pond pumps currently on the market.
The Tetra Pond Debris-Handling Pump provides consistent, clog-free performance for pond filters, waterfalls, and streams. Water, dirt, and debris are drawn through quarter-inch holes in the pre-filter cage surrounding the pump. This cage keeps leaves, sticks, and large debris from entering the pump, while also protecting your fish from the pump’s impeller. Any additional debris or dirt that does make it through the pre-filter cage is pumped through to an external pond filter for removal or directly through to a waterfall or stream.
This pump can circulate up to 4000 GPH using its energy-efficient unidirectional impeller and motor. The plastic and ceramic construction of this unit are wear-resistant and anti-corrosive, particularly at the shaft. This engineering will allow this pump to work 24/7 for a much longer time than some other pump models. Epoxy encapsulation protects the motor from any water intrusions.
This pump is best for larger ponds, ones that span from 1000 to 1500 gallons. The pump can also power waterfalls up to a maximum height of approximately 13 feet. It’s the best option for ponds that clog pumps and filters easily and is perfect for ponds with aquatic animals and plants that you don’t want to be damaged or injured.
What are its best features?
Easy to clean with lower maintenance
Perfect for ponds that cause a lot of clogging
Great for fish ponds
Less expensive than similar options
What could be improved?
Isn’t as optimal for a strong-flowing waterfall or stream as other models
More features: Can be used vertically or horizontally, oil-free, magnetic-driven, epoxy protected, ceramic shaft.
Alpine has a reputation as a great, proven company who specializes in water pumps and fountains. With that kind of expertise, you can count on them to design and manufacture a high-quality pond pump. In their PAL3100 model pump, they’ve raised the bar yet again. This is a hybrid pump, which means it can be used externally from your pond or as a submersible model pump.
Depending on the model size, you’ll get a pump that can cycle from 2100 to 8000 GPH, so make sure you get the right one for your pond. You don’t want to under circulate your pond’s water, after all. The 3100 GPH model highlighted here will use about 190 watts of power to circulate your pond.
There’s no doubt that this is one of the best pumps that you can get for your pond, and it comes at a reasonable, budget-friendly price. if you’re looking for a pump to circulate the water of your medium to large pond, this pump model is the way to go.
Why did it make our list?
Hybrid pump can be used as a submersible or an external pump
2100 to 8000 GPH, depending on the model
Long cord length
Fantastic for medium to large-size ponds
What is not ideal about it?
Some reviewers state that the pump has worn out sooner than anticipated, but the three-year warranty helps to alleviate some of that concern.
More features: UL listed pump, compatible with 1 in. ID tubing
Our top pick for Customer’s Choice is the 1200 GPH Waterfall Pump by TotalPond. This pump was designed specifically to pump water for waterfall and fountain features within your pond and is additionally one of the best fish pond pumps based on its design. That is because it’s oil-free, and features a pump shield to protect it from any debris that could clog it up or bind the motor.
This pump is also incredibly quiet, even while moving large amounts of water. It is energy-efficient, and is also moderately priced, so it can fit into almost any budget with ease.
The pump comes in several sizes, including an impressive 5100 GPH that will generate waterfalls of up to 18 feet high. With a 16-foot long cord, you can position it pretty much wherever you want that’s easy to access it from for maintenance and won’t have to worry about it reaching your circuit-breaker.
What stands out?
Ideal for small waterfalls up to 5-feet tall
Back-spitting feature keeps the pump cool
Powerful but quiet design
Oil-free, safe for plants and animals
What cons did we manage to find?
Warranty is limited compared to other manufacturer warranties
More features: dual-discharge design, one 1-1/4″ MNPT x 1″ barbed elbow adapter and a 1-1/4″ MNPT discharge cap
Do you want two water features for your pond? Is it imperative for your pond’s aesthetic? Then Little Giant’s Dual Discharge Waterfall Pump is what you need for your pond. The dual discharge design will allow you to push water through two separate water features with one convenient pump.
This model of the Dual Discharge Waterfall Pump packs an impressive punch, utilizing a 1900 GPH capacity. It can reach a maximum water height of approximately 20 feet, which is part of what makes it the best dual discharge pump currently on the market.
It comes with a 16-foot cord that you can use to position the pump wherever you want. This versatility of this model doesn’t stop there, though – this pump can be positioned either vertically or horizontally. Between its power and versatility, it’s sure to be a great addition to any pond or waterfall feature you have.
What are its best features?
Quiet but powerful
Advanced dual discharge design can power two water features at one time
Great for smaller ponds
Easy to install and cost-friendly
What could be improved?
Can be difficult to clean when it’s clogged
The inlet may clog more easily, especially if there’s a lot of plant life near the pump
More features: 24-hour continuous use, heat-overload sensor, contains no oil
The Aqua Pulse is arguably the best small pond pump you’ll find out there, and you can get it for a reasonably low price! Its small size makes it easy to conceal, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking up any natural look for your pond or garden, especially since it’s submersible.
It comes in a range of sizes that can handle pumping out between 550 and 12,500 GPH, so no matter what size pond you have, this is a reliable and cost-effective option. Plus, the cords for these various sizes of pumps range from 30 to 200 feet in length, so they’ll reach just about anywhere and everywhere you can imagine.
This pump doesn’t use any oil in its motor, which makes it safe for any type of fish, amphibians, plants, and reptiles you may have living in your pond. Additionally, you can control the speed of this pump by using a variable controller, though it’s sold separately.
What are our favorite features?
The heat-overload sensor prevents burnouts
Oil-free and safe for fish, amphibians, reptiles, and plants
A variety of sizing options for a wide range of pond sizes, from 550 to 12500 GPH
Has a two-year service warranty
Low power consumption
What could be better?
The variable controller that you can use to adjust the speed of this pump is sold separately or as an added feature.
Things to Consider
Pond pumps are necessary for cycling and circulating your pond’s water. This helps with the flow of oxygen under the water’s surface and, ultimately, increases the health of your pond and any animals or plants living in it. In the same way an indoor aquarium needs a water pump, your pond does, too. And our buying guide will help you to choose the best one.
Features to consider while choosing a pond pump?
There are so many different pumps and varieties of pumps available, so what should you look for when you’re looking for the best pump for your pond? Whether you stock that pond with fish or not, it can be overwhelming to sort through all the available options and the wide range of features to look for. But since the pump will be what keeps your pond running, quite literally, we’ve outlined some features to look for and keep in mind while shopping.
There are multiple types of pond pumps that you may be considering, or may not even be aware of yet. They are submersible, external, magnetic drive and direct drive types.
Submersible pumps are designed to be wholly submerged in your pond’s water, usually in the deepest part of the pond. These pumps are usually the easiest to install and work well in environments designed to have a natural look or aesthetic. As an added benefit, they can be used to drain your pond when necessary and work great for ponds that need a circulation range from 50 to 5000 gallons per hour. For smaller ponds, these pump types tend to be more economical, but they can use more energy, and thus can cost more long-term, than other pump types.
External pumps are great for ponds that are 1000 gallons or more. They can circulate a higher volume of water with a lower energy cost overall than their submersible counterparts but tend to generate more noise and are more complex to install and maintain. Self-priming pumps that are able to draw their own water tend to be better than ones that aren’t. This is because the pump can burn itself out if there’s a loss of power. You can help alleviate this concern by installing a check valve on the pump. And probably the best example of such a pump is Alpine Corporation PAL3100 Pump.
Magnetic drive pumps utilize an electrical charge to create a magnetic field. This causes the impeller’s magnet to rotate and pump water. These types of pumps are highly energy-efficient and are completely sealed, removing the need for additional lubrication. However, they do not generate head heights or lift height, which makes them unsuitable for fountains or lifted waterfall effects.
Direct drive pumps have an enclosed motor powered by electricity, which is how the impeller shaft gets turns. Unlike the magnetic drive pumps, these are excellent for pound fountains and waterfalls, as they can get more significant head height. These are usually more expensive to operate, though, and are also not easy to repair. Some models also have their motor sealed in an oil-filled shell, which could lead to risks of contamination and even a danger of death if you have any aquatic animals like fish or amphibians in your pond.
The power of your pond pump is measured in gallons per hour (GPH) rating, but some larger models of pumps may also include a horsepower (HP) rating. The pump’s manufacturer will typically break down the power of each size pump.
Additionally, you want to take the operating power of your pump into consideration. Most people will have their pumps working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the entire year, so it’s important for people to know how much power their pump will draw during the operational lifetime of the unit, and exactly Tetra Pond Debris-Handling Pump does work 24/7. As mentioned previously, some models will draw more power than others, depending on their type.
The flow rate is most important when considering a pump for a water feature, such as a fountain or a waterfall effect. Larger volumes of water will require larger pumps to gain an effective flow rate. Water feature pumps will typically have a higher flow rate and a lower pressure, so that’s something to keep in mind, depending on what kinds of water features or aesthetic designs you have planned for your pond.
The maximum head height rating or lift is an incredibly important factor to consider in your search through the best pond pump reviews during your search.
The head height refers to the vertical height at which the pump will raise the water above the surface of the pond. It is measured straight up from the water level of the pond. You should select a pump that lifts higher than the height you want it to reach, to account for any arch or horizontal and diagonal water flow.
So if you need a height of 24 inches, you want to select a pump that lifts at least 36 inches high.
An enclosed or otherwise protected motor is extremely important to the longevity of your pump’s operational life, so you want to be sure that the casing for it is properly sealed even barring regular maintenance or lubrication needs. Additionally, you don’t want a motor that isn’t strong enough to consistently circulate your water properly, so knowing how many gallons you need to circulate per hour is important. You also don’t want a motor that is too powerful, as it could suck in or push any aquatic plants or animals and could cause damage or harm to them, so for the smaller ponds the Aqua Pulse 550 is highly recommended, and as to the larger ones Alpine Corporation PAL3100 Pump.
Pond Pump Size Chart
For ponds up to 1000 gallons, submersible pumps are usually preferable whereas external pumps usually work for larger ponds. A good rule for deciding the circulation needs of your pond is to determine how many gallons the pond is, and then find a pump model that can circulate all of the water within your pond every two hours. So, for a 1000 gallon pond, you would need at least a 500GPH pump, such as Aqua Pulse 550. Additionally, if your pond houses fish, you will want to increase the pump’s strength by at least 50 percent.
Size of Pond in Gallons
Minimum Pump Size Needed for Cycling
Your pond pump needs a power outlet, but using your home outlets or running an extension cord can be not only unsightly but also hazardous. Finding a way to power your pump is a problem many homeowners run into at first. The best option is to have an electrician connect the wires of your pump to a circuit breaker panel. You can save a bit of money for the costs here buy digging and burying the pipes and lines yourself that will run from the pump to the breaker.
When looking for the best fish pond pump, binding can be a great concern for many. If the impeller is bound up or clogged easily, it won’t do much of anything to circulate your water and actively rotate. Look for pumps and impeller that resist or fully eliminate any potential for clogging or binding, and you’ll have a much better time of maintaining and overall enjoying your pond.
You want a pump made of anti-corrosive materials that can withstand inclement weather conditions such as freezing or intense heat. Heavy-duty plastics, ceramics, and similar materials will be your best and most-common options, particularly for internal parts and the external casing, like it is to be seen by our Editor’s Choice Tetra Pond Debris-Handling Pump.
The dimensions of your pond pump are usually determined by how much water they have to circulate. If your pond is small, you can get a smaller pump that won’t take up much space and will barely be noticeable unless it’s being searched for. Larger pumps will typically circulate larger amounts of water and may be external type pumps which will be a bit more difficult to conceal. Find a pump that not only works for the volume of your pond but also with the aesthetic you can create to alleviate the visual burden of the pump.
The longer the power cord of your pump, the more freedom you have on placement without having to buy extension cords or other similar pieces of equipment. You want the cord to be able to stretch from your circuit breaker to your pond and will have to account for it being run under your yard or lawn to the water feature in question.
Warranties are extremely important when buying any kind of electronic part, and that’s more true with the pump that will effectively act as the heart for your pond. You want a pond pump that has at least a one-year warranty, and one that will cover any manufacturer errors or defects in the pump. You should also look for reviews on the manufacturer’s customer service team, and the turnaround on replacing or repairing a faulty unit. Knowing what to expect in the event that something goes wrong with your pump will help you to prepare for any potential downtime, and will keep your pond running optimally. Most of the pumps on our list come with three-year warranty, except for TotalPond 1200 GPH Submersible Waterfall Pump and Aqua Pulse 550, which have 2-year limited warranty.
The initial cost and ongoing cost of a pond pump will vary based on the pond you’re trying to circulate. You have to take into account the GPH of the pump you’ll need, what head height you’re looking to achieve, and more. You can expect to spend a couple hundred dollars for an effective pond pump. To find out the ongoing costs of running the pump, you’ll want to find the wattage or amperage of the pump and the amount you pay per kilowatt per hour. For example, a 120 Watt pump running for 24 hours a day, and operating at the US average of 12 cents an hour, will cost approximately $10.37 per month.
The easiest ponds to measure are ones that are rectangular or circular in shape. The more irregular the shape of your water feature, the less accurate your measurements will become. You can use a standard length x width x height formula to find the volume of a rectangular-shaped pond. Circular ponds can be measured by finding the radius of the circle, then using the equation 3.14 x R² where R is the radius. Multiply that sum by the depth of your pond, and that will give you the approximate volume.
Keep in mind that the numbers you calculate may actually be higher than what your pond can actually contain, but not by very much. This is because your pond may be different depths at different points throughout.
NPT stands for National Pipe Thread, and FNPT stands for Female National Pipe Thread. These are the American standard threads and are based on Trade Size rather than the actual diameter of the threads. Both NPT and FNPT threads have the same pitch, 60-degree angle, and shape. For a leak-free seal, you should always use a thread sealant.
The proper positioning of the pump you choose to use will depend on whether or not you want to create a fountain or waterfall feature or want to just keep your pond well-circulated.
Submersible pumps are by far the most commonly used in most home-based pond keeping practices, and they are designed to be positioned underwater. They should be put at the bottom of the pond, but somewhere easy to access for maintenance purposes. Most come with an area at the top where a rope or a cord could be attached for easy removal from the pond, and you should be cautious to never lift a pump by its electrical cord, as this can be particularly dangerous.
With these reviews and our tips for buying your new pond pump, we believe you should have a thorough understanding of exactly what the best pond pump should have to offer.
With these amazing pumps in mind, and with our buying guide and notable features and specifications that you should keep an eye out for, you will be able to make the best choice for circulating the water in your pond or flowing water through your chosen water features.