5 Best Water Pumps For Aquariums Tested, Compared & Reviewed (2022)

As an aquatic hobbyist, your main goal is to create and maintain a healthy environment for your tank’s inhabitants.

The right aquarium water pump (also known as a powerhead), will promote water circulation and ensure your tank’s water is oxygenated.

To help you find the right one, I purchased 5 popular choices, ran them through tests and compared the results to find you the best water pump for your aquarium.

TLDR – Water Pump Review Overview

After unboxing and testing out five different aquarium water pumps, I was most impressed with the Marineland Maxi-Jet. It doesn’t have a huge amount of GPH, but I love the features and how easy this pump made it to direct the water flow.

For pure power, it was a toss up between the SunSun JP-024 and the Aqua Miracle WD800. The Aqua Miracle had the most GPH, and great suction cups, but a limited ability to direct the water.

The SunSun has a little less GPH, and the suction cups were so-so, but you can rotate the outflow 360°, providing more ability to direct the water where you want it.

When it came to smaller tanks, I really liked the Vivosun HY-303. It’s a simple pump that would be a good choice for 30-40 gallon tanks. My only gripe is that you can’t direct the water, but you can turn the water flow up and down with a handy slider on the side of the pump.

I was not a huge fan of the AquaNeat A769. The suction cups don’t seem very strong and there’s no way to direct the water.

Preview Product
Marineland Maxi-Jet 600, Multi-Use Water Pump And Power Head, Fully Convertible (ML90510), 160/750 GPH Marineland Maxi-Jet 600, Multi-Use Water Pump And Power Head, Fully Convertible (ML90510), 160/750...
Super Sun Submersible Aquarium Power Head, 317 GPH Super Sun Submersible Aquarium Power Head, 317 GPH
AquaMiracle Aquarium Powerhead Pump Circulating Water Pump 210 GPH for 40-60 Gallon Aquariums with Aerating Features AquaMiracle Aquarium Powerhead Pump Circulating Water Pump 210 GPH for 40-60 Gallon Aquariums with...
VIVOSUN 210GPH Submersible Pump(800L/H, 8W), Ultra Quiet Water Pump with 3.3ft High Lift, Fountain Pump with 5ft Power Cord, 2 Nozzles for Fish Tank, Pond, Aquarium, Statuary, Hydroponics VIVOSUN 210GPH Submersible Pump(800L/H, 8W), Ultra Quiet Water Pump with 3.3ft High Lift, Fountain...
AQUANEAT Aquarium Powerhead 210GPH, Filtration, Oxygenation, Circulation Submersible Water Pump for Fish Tank, Fountain, Undergravel Filter, Sponge Filter, Hydroponics AQUANEAT Aquarium Powerhead 210GPH, Filtration, Oxygenation, Circulation Submersible Water Pump for...

Last update on 2022-05-19 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Do You Need an Aquarium Water Pump?

Maybe, but also, maybe not.

An aquarium water pump (also known as a powerhead) is an internal pump you use to add extra water flow in your tank. They don’t hold any filter media, they simply create more current.

But, not all tanks need extra water circulation. 

If you have a little 10 gallon (39 liter) tank, with an appropriately sized hang-on-the-back filter, you likely have more than enough water current in your tank already and don’t need to add on a water pump.

But, if you have something like a 55 gallon (208 liter), or bigger, the tank may have dead spots because it is so large. Even with a good filter, long tanks may have areas of little to no circulation because the water flow is concentrated near the filter and doesn’t reach the other end of the tank. 

Decor and plants can also block or divert water flow, creating further dead spots.

These areas of low circulation can have depleted oxygen levels and can allow outbreaks of  blue-green algae. 

Adding on a water pump can create current on the far side of the tank without having to add on an extra filter.

So, water pumps can be really, really handy in large setups, but not every tank needs them.

How I Tested The Water Pumps

Aquarium water pumps

The 5 water pumps I decided to buy where the:

  • Marineland Maxi-Jet 600
  • SunSun JP-024
  • Aqua Miracle WD800
  • Vivosun HY-303
  • Aquaneat A769

Here’s how I tested and reviewed these pumps.

What is GPH, and Why is it Important?

GPH stands for gallons per hour. It’s the standard measurement for things like water pumps and filters to denote the volume of water they can pump through each hour. 

Knowing the GPH of a water pump is important because it will determine what size of tank it’s best for. 

If the GPH is too low, you won’t get effective circulation in the tank. But, if the GPH is too high, you could have too much flow, overwhelming fish and even forcing water out of the tank.

Think of it like this, a water pump is a motor. You don’t want to drive a muscle car with a tiny economy car engine and you don’t want to drive an economy car with a muscle car engine that will just tear the thing apart.

I​​ based my tank size recommendations on the pump being able to turn over the tank’s volume at least 4 times an hour. This will add substantial circulation without blasting water around the tank. Some people may prefer more or less flow in their aquariums, but I decided to play it safe with my recommendations.

Testing The Water Pump’s GPH

To test the GPH of the water pumps, I connected a hose to the outflow of each pump. I submerged each water pump in a 70 gallon (265 liter) horse trough full of water, with the hose hanging over the side.

I plugged in the pump and then directed the hose into a 2 gallon (7.5 liter) container. I timed how long it took to fill up the container.

I tested each water pump three times and used the average time to calculate the GPH.

First, I divided the average times by 2, that gave me the rate of gallons per second. Then, I used that number to divide 3600, the number of seconds in an hour, in order to find out the GPH.

Here’s an example if the times were 30.2, 29.9 and 30.5.

That would be an average time of 30.2 seconds.

30.2 ÷ 2 = 15.1 gallons per second.

3600 ÷ 15.1 = 238.41 gallons per hour.

GPH Testing Results

  • Aqua Miracle WD800 – GPH 270
  • SunSun JP-024 – GPH 232
  • Aquaneat A769- 206
  • Vivosun HY-303 – 160
  • Marineland Maxi-Jet 600 – GPH 149

A high GPH doesn’t always mean it is the best, it just means it’s more suitable for a tank needing a stronger flow.

Installation and Features

Just like with GPH, not all pumps are created equal. There are different attachments and installation methods for each one.

I unboxed each water pump and installed them in one of my tanks. This let me play around with the included parts and get a feel for how well the suction cups grip.

5 Best Aquarium Water Pump Reviewed

1. Marineland Maxi-Jet 600

  • GPH: 149
  • Best for: 30-40 gallons (113-151 liters)

I really, really like this water pump. It is the most versatile of the group.

It has the lowest GPH, but it has a bunch of super nifty features that really set it apart. 

First off, this comes with a great instructional manual that goes over all of the different ways you can set this up. This pump can be used submerged in the aquarium or can be connected to hoses and used outside of the water.

None of the other water pumps I tried out could be used as an external pump. This can be very handy; you could use the pump externally to provide a river like current in the tank or even to drain water out of an aquarium for maintenance.

The mounting setup on this water pump is what really makes it stand out. The mounting bracket is triangular and the suction cups are very strong. 

An omni-directional (ball joint) mount lets you point the water pump in any direction. This mount was very stable, the pump stayed in whatever position I put it in. None of the other pumps I tried out had this feature.

I loved being able to direct the flow of the water so easily.

I liked working with this water pump, and I highly recommend it.

Sale
Marineland Maxi-Jet 600, Multi-Use Water Pump And Power Head, Fully Convertible (ML90510), 160/750 GPH
Marineland Maxi-Jet 600, Multi-Use Water Pump And Power Head, Fully Convertible (ML90510), 160/750 GPH

    Last update on 2022-05-19 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    2. SunSun JP-024

    • GPH: 232
    • Best for: 55+ gallons (208+ liters)

    I was really impressed with this pump. It had the second highest GPH and would add substantial water movement, even in larger tanks.

    I wasn’t crazy about the instruction manual. There are no pictures and the instructions are in poorly written English.

    In fact, this pump comes with two feet of small, ridged black hose, and for the life of me, I haven’t been able to figure out what you’re supposed to do with it. There are no instruction and it doesn’t fit on the intake or outflow.

    This water pump has a sliding mounting bracket with three suction cups. I’m not crazy about the suction cups. They seem a bit weak for a pump this heavy.

    Once you affix the bracket to the tank wall, you can slide the pump up and down on the bracket so you can adjust for water evaporation without having to remove the suction cups.

    The outflow nozzle can turn 360°, giving you lots of options for directing the water flow.

    Despite the bad instructions, it was fairly easy to get this water pump set up and I was impressed by the amount of flow this bad boy put out.

    Super Sun Submersible Aquarium Power Head, 317 GPH
    Super Sun Submersible Aquarium Power Head, 317 GPH

      Last update on 2022-05-18 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      3. Aqua Miracle WD800

      • GPH: 270
      • Best for: 55+ gallons (208+ liters)

      This was the most powerful water pump that we tried out, it pumped out 60 more GPH than is listed on the box even, I was impressed. 

      There aren’t any bells or whistles on this pump, it comes with a simple strainer and a sturdy mounting bracket. 

      I didn’t like the very limited options for directing the water. The outflow on the impeller cover can only be turned a small amount or else the whole cover pops off. I did not like how easy it was to accidentally make the impeller cover pop off when you’re trying to change the direction of the outflow.

      I did like its sliding mounting bracket, I thought the suction cups seemed strong. Like many of the others, this bracket lets you slide the pump up and down to adjust for the water level without having to peel off the suction cups.

      If you’re looking for raw power to move water in a big tank, you definitely want to consider this pump.

      AquaMiracle Aquarium Powerhead Pump Circulating Water Pump 210 GPH for 40-60 Gallon Aquariums with Aerating Features
      AquaMiracle Aquarium Powerhead Pump Circulating Water Pump 210 GPH for 40-60 Gallon Aquariums with Aerating Features

        Last update on 2022-05-19 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

        4. Vivosun HY-303

        • GPH: 160
        • Best for: 30-40 gallons (113-151 liters)

        This little Vivosun was the simplest of all the pumps I looked at.

        There’s no sliding bracket or ways to direct the flow. This is just a small pump with suction cups attached to the back. You stick it on the glass and it pushes water straight out.

        This pump had the second lowest GPH of the bunch. It’s a great choice for adding some current to a smaller tank, like a 30 or 40 gallon. It would provide extra flow without taking up a whole lot of room in the tank.

        This water pump is simple to install, but I do worry a bit how long the small suction cups it uses will hold up. 

        But, if you need more water flow in a smaller tank, I think this one would be a good choice.

        VIVOSUN 210GPH Submersible Pump(800L/H, 8W), Ultra Quiet Water Pump with 3.3ft High Lift, Fountain Pump with 5ft Power Cord, 2 Nozzles for Fish Tank, Pond, Aquarium, Statuary, Hydroponics
        VIVOSUN 210GPH Submersible Pump(800L/H, 8W), Ultra Quiet Water Pump with 3.3ft High Lift, Fountain Pump with 5ft Power Cord, 2 Nozzles for Fish Tank, Pond, Aquarium, Statuary, Hydroponics

          Last update on 2022-05-19 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

          5. Aquaneat A769

          • GPH: 206
          • Best for: 40-55 gallons (151-208 liters)

          Aquaneat included some slightly different features than the other water pumps. The outflow came with two attachments. One was a piece of tubing that the directions showed being connected to a fountainhead (not included) above the waterline. 

          Or it also includes a small, fixed directional nozzle. The nozzle only points one way, there is no way to turn or adjust the direction of the water, at all.

          This pump does have a sliding bracket, but I really, really do not like the suction cups that it comes with. It is too easy to knock them out of place and they are very undersized for a pump this heavy.

          Overall, I wasn’t a huge fan of this water pump. It’s low on features and doesn’t seem like it would hold a strong bond to the side of the tank long term.

          AQUANEAT Aquarium Powerhead 210GPH, Filtration, Oxygenation, Circulation Submersible Water Pump for Fish Tank, Fountain, Undergravel Filter, Sponge Filter, Hydroponics
          AQUANEAT Aquarium Powerhead 210GPH, Filtration, Oxygenation, Circulation Submersible Water Pump for Fish Tank, Fountain, Undergravel Filter, Sponge Filter, Hydroponics

          Last update on 2022-05-19 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

          Which Water Pump is Best?

          Of all these pumps, I enjoyed the design and features of the Marineland Maxi-Jet the most. I love how you can quickly and easily customize the direction of the water flow. The mounting bracket is very sturdy.

          I also thought highly of the SunSun JP-024, it was my favorite of the higher GPH pumps. Although, the Aqua Miracle was the clear winner when it came to GPH and I loved its tough suction cups.

          I think the Vivosun is a great choice to add some extra flow to smaller tanks approx. 30-40 gallons (113-151 liters).

          I think I would just pass on the Aquaneat water pump. It has good GPH, but it’s lacking in other respects.

          Preview Product
          Marineland Maxi-Jet 600, Multi-Use Water Pump And Power Head, Fully Convertible (ML90510), 160/750 GPH Marineland Maxi-Jet 600, Multi-Use Water Pump And Power Head, Fully Convertible (ML90510), 160/750...
          Super Sun Submersible Aquarium Power Head, 317 GPH Super Sun Submersible Aquarium Power Head, 317 GPH
          AquaMiracle Aquarium Powerhead Pump Circulating Water Pump 210 GPH for 40-60 Gallon Aquariums with Aerating Features AquaMiracle Aquarium Powerhead Pump Circulating Water Pump 210 GPH for 40-60 Gallon Aquariums with...
          VIVOSUN 210GPH Submersible Pump(800L/H, 8W), Ultra Quiet Water Pump with 3.3ft High Lift, Fountain Pump with 5ft Power Cord, 2 Nozzles for Fish Tank, Pond, Aquarium, Statuary, Hydroponics VIVOSUN 210GPH Submersible Pump(800L/H, 8W), Ultra Quiet Water Pump with 3.3ft High Lift, Fountain...
          AQUANEAT Aquarium Powerhead 210GPH, Filtration, Oxygenation, Circulation Submersible Water Pump for Fish Tank, Fountain, Undergravel Filter, Sponge Filter, Hydroponics AQUANEAT Aquarium Powerhead 210GPH, Filtration, Oxygenation, Circulation Submersible Water Pump for...

          Last update on 2022-05-19 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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          Katherine Morgan

          Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. A nunchuck specialist, I've kept aquariums for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast. If You'd like to see more of my tanks, check out my Instagram

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