Tanks & Accessories
12 Best Aquarium Pumps of 2020
A critical component required for the survival of every animal is oxygen. Above water, oxygen is very plentiful but for fish, turtles and other water creatures, oxygen can become very scarce without a proper water circulation system.
This is where aquarium pumps come in. If you have an effective filter operating a small-sized fish tank, an aquarium pump is not that necessary.
However, for big tanks with lots of livestock, an aquarium pump is necessary for keeping the water properly aerated. With that in mind, this article gives an in-depth review of the best aquarium pumps to consider buying.
12 Best Aquarium Pumps – Review
1. Simple Deluxe LGPUMP1056G (Best Overall)
2. Tetra 77851 (Best Budget)
3. VicTsing CAAA3-HG16 (Best Submersible for Small Aquariums)
4. Kedsum Submersible Pump (Easy-to-Install)
5. Tiger Pumps Submersible Pump (Acid & Salt Resistant)
6. Homasy Submersible Pump (Adjustable Flow Rate)
7. EcoPlus 728310 (Versatile)
8. Tetra Whisper AP300 (For Deepwater)
9. Marineland PF0200B (3-Stage Filtration)
10. Fluval Q2 (Quiet)
11. Vivosun AP-45 (Heavy-Duty)
12. VicTsing Air Pump (Compact)
1. Simple Deluxe LGPUMP1056G
2. Tetra 77851
3. VicTsing CAAA3-HG16
(Best Submersible for Small Aquariums)
4. Kedsum Submersible Pump
5. Tiger Pumps Submersible Pump
(Acid & Salt Resistant)
6. Homasy Submersible Pump
(Adjustable Flow Rate)
7. EcoPlus 728310
8. Tetra Whisper AP300
9. Marineland PF0200B
10. Fluval Q2
11. Vivosun AP-45
12. VicTsing Air Pump
1. Simple Deluxe LGPUMP1056G – Best Overall Aquarium Pump
Simple Deluxe’s submersible water pump stands out as the best overall because of a number of reasons.
For starters, the unit has a pre-filter sponge that prevents large debris from getting inside and clogging the impeller. This has a positive impact on the life of the pump.
On the inside, the motor runs a polished aluminum oxide ceramic impeller shaft, which is very durable because it is 3 times as hard as stainless steel.
Crucial internal components of the motor are coated with an epoxy resin to prevent unwanted conductivity and corrosion of their metallic parts. Overall, this design, from the filter sponge to the epoxy coated components, makes this pump very durable.
The motor itself is quite powerful. It gives the pump a max flow rate of 1056 GPH and can shoot water up to 12 feet high.
This makes the unit very versatile because, with such power, it can be used on hydroponic systems, fountains, and aquariums among many others. The only problem is that this pump is quite costly and bulky.
2. Tetra 77851 – Best Budget Aquarium Pump
Tetra's 77851 is the most affordable pump on this list and it has an innovative design that is very quiet. This design consists of a dome shape that keeps the pump’s housing suspended inside.
This helps to dampen the vibrations and is further boosted by the wideness of the dome, which spreads the vibrations across a large area, while rubber feet help absorb them.
Inside the pump, diaphragms provide the pumping action to aerate up to a 10-gallon aquarium. Dampening chambers, as well as a thick dome wall, minimize the sound and vibrations from these diaphragms, making it one of the quietest aquarium pumps.
This is the same design that is used in the larger 20 – 40, 40 – 60 and 60 – 100-gallon tank Tetra pumps in this range. The result of this is a whisper-like noise from the pump, which is actually why they are named so.
On the downside, the pump is rated Non-UL, which means that its circuitry is not approved by Underwriters Laboratories for safety purposes. It also does not come with the required piping for a complete installation.
3. VicTsing CAAA3-HG16 – Best Submersible Pump for Small Aquariums
VicTsing’s unit is the best submersible pump for small tanks because of its small size, in which it occupies a very tiny space inside the fish tank.
Installing the unit is also quite easy. Being submersible, no piping is required. You only need to use its rubber suction cups to attach it easily on a suitable side wall and that’s it.
Once installed, the unit has a max flow rate of 80 GPH, which is pretty decent considering its size. This flow rate is adjustable using a very intuitive dial, with a maximum water lift of 2.6 feet from the pump outlet, making it possible to create a water fountain for better aeration.
This operation is powered by a very efficient and quiet 4-watt motor, which drives a durable, corrosion-resistant stainless steel impeller.
The pump’s problem though is that it can clog up very quickly, but is very easy to disassemble and clean without requiring any tools.
Also, if you mistakenly run the product without any water load, it can get spoilt very easily. However, it is backed by a 12-month warranty and is also very affordable, which makes it very easy to replace.
4. Kedsum Submersible Pump – Easy-to-Install Aquarium Pump
Kedsum’s submersible pump is like a big brother to VicTsing unit above. The similarities between the two lie in the submersible construction, easy installation via suction cups and easy cleaning.
However, this pump has a more powerful 40-watt motor, which delivers a flow rate of 550 GPH and is recommended for large 130-gallon tanks.
The motor can provide a max lift of 5 feet for creating bigger water fountains. Despite being this powerful, the motor operates very silently, leaving you with a very quiet environment.
Even though the flow rate is not adjustable, you get differently-sized nozzles for flow rate adjustment but these requires some manual work when switching between the nozzles.
5. Tiger Pumps Submersible Pump – Acid and Salt Resistant Aquarium Pump
Tiger Pumps’ submersible unit is quite unique because it is made using next-gen acid and salt-resistant material throughout. This makes it ideal for aquariums, fountains, ponds and hydroponics systems because it can take on anything.
Other that that, the pump is very compact and lightweight, and packs in a quiet 6-watt pump that delivers a max flow rate of 120 GPH at a max lift height of 6 feet.
This makes it possible to create a fountain or waterfall design (depending on the aquarium height) for maximum aeration.
A rotating screen on the pump’s intake is used to adjust the flow rate while half and quarter inch nozzles control the pump’s output. It has suction cups for easy installation and a 5-foot heavy duty, waterproof cord for powering the unit underwater.
On the downside, the pump clogs up quite easily though disassembling it is a very easy task for cleaning. You should also take care not to run it dry because it can easily burn.
6. Homasy Submersible Pump – Aquarium Pump with Adjustable Flow Rate
Homasy’s submersible unit is a top-rated aquarium pump and is run by an energy efficient 25-watt motor that gives a max flow rate of 400 GPH. This flow rate is adjustable, giving you more flexibility over the circulation process.
With this motor, the pump can lift the water up to 6.9 feet through its 0.51 or 0.61-inch nozzles, which is pretty high and good enough for creating waterfalls or fountains.
For installation, suction cups make it possible to attach the pump onto the aquarium glass or acrylic wall while a 5.9-foot power cord gives the required allowance to sink it down up to the desired depth.
Clogging is a big issue for submersible pumps and this one is no different. However, it can be easily dismantled without using any tools and this makes it very easy to maintain.
7. EcoPlus 728310 – Versatile Aquarium Pump
The EcoPlus water pump was designed with two things in mind. One is versatility and two, ease of maintenance.
Versatility is incorporated in the form of being both a submersible pump as well as an in-line pump. This unit can be used both on dry land and in water and this makes it ideal for a number of projects, which include hydroponics, fountains, ponds and of course, fish tanks.
For ease of maintenance, a powerful oil-free rare earth rotor magnet is used inside the motor, and this does not require regular oiling from time to time.
Additionally, a sponge filter is used to filter out large particles from penetrating and clogging the pump on the inside.
These might seem like simple features to have but they have a very big impact on the maintenance requirements of the pump.
Inside the housing, a 36-watt motor runs the water at 396 GPH and can propel the water upwards at a distance of up to 6.5 feet.
However, with this pump, the flow rate is not adjustable, though it comes with 4 differently sized outflow fittings that give a little control over the output.
8. Tetra Whisper AP300 – Deepwater Aquarium Air Pump
Though very costly, Tetra's Whisper AP300 is a very powerful air pump whose strength lies in its deep water capabilities.
Being an air pump, it is designed to pump air down to depths of up to 8 feet, which means you can comfortable aerate large, deep tanks using this.
Additionally, the unit has a powerful motor that can run up to 10 accessories (air stones) in one or more tanks at a depth of 2 feet for better and quicker aeration of the water.
Despite having such a powerful motor, the pump operates very silently, which is actually what the Whisper in its name signifies.
If you are worried about the cost, there is a cheaper, less powerful Whisper AP150 that you can consider.
9. Marineland PF0200B – Aquarium Pump with 3-Stage Filtration
Marineland’s Penguin product is quite bulky but it is more than just a pump. It combines the pumping action with a 3-stage filtration system to provide water circulation for aeration and filtration for water purification simultaneously.
This filtration system comprises of a mechanical filter for removing dirt and debris while a chemical filter containing activated carbon removes odor and discolorations.
The final step is biological filtration, which is basically a bio-wheel that supports beneficial bacteria for eliminating toxic ammonia and nitrites from the water.
With this pump, you do not need to have a separate filter for your 30 – 50-gallon tank. There are also different sizes for an up to 20-gallon tank, a 20 – 30-gallon tank, and a larger 50 – 70-gallon tank, giving you multiple options to work with.
On the downside, the unit water flow is not adjustable but this is not a big issue because a constant output works very well in filters.
10. Fluval Q2 – Quiet Aquarium Air Pump
Aesthetically, this is a very good looking pump. It looks like a book with grey pages and a black cover. However, this body is not only made like this for the looks. It is a noise suppressing baffle chamber that makes the Fluval pump a very quiet unit.
Although it has only one air outlet that is capable of powering a single accessory, this Q2 has an adjustable flow rate, and this gives you more control over the aeration process.
If you prefer having more outlets, you could opt for the Q1, but this has no adjustable flow control and is ideal for smaller 45 – 80-gallon fish tanks. The Q2 is capable of handling 50 – 160-gallon aquariums but is slightly more expensive than the Q1.
11. Vivosun AP-45 – Heavy-Duty Aquarium Air Pump
From the external appearance, you can tell that this is a heavy duty pump. It is quite bulky but this size houses a piston pumping system, which is more durable and more efficient at pumping large volumes of air.
This is quite evident in its 950 GPH max flow rate while the motor that runs the system is only rated at 32 watts.
However, the pump generates quite a lot of heat but this is taken care of by the aluminum construction with fins for superior heat dissipation.
The product has a single outlet but it comes with a distributor that splits the air into 6 channels. With this many outputs, the unit can be used to aerate multiple aquariums, hydroponics systems, and even ponds at the same time.
The only problem is that the pump is very bulky.
12. VicTsing Air Pump – Compact Aquarium Air Pump
VicTsing’s aquarium pump is also very silent but stands out due to its small size. This makes it very easy to carry and very comfortable to use inside the house.
The quiet characteristic is made possible by a multi-level muffler, which reduces the pumping noise to less than 35dB. Such a noise will not even affect your sleep at all.
For outlets, this unit has two of them but without flow control adjustability. However, it comes with all the piping and 2 air stones as accessories, making it usable straight out of the box for aerating one or two aquariums simultaneously.
Although small in size, the pump is run by a relatively powerful motor that pumps in the air at the rate of 55 GPH to a maximum depth of about 2 feet and is capable of handling up to a 45-gallon tank.
An important thing to note is that the pump is not waterproof and thus, it should be carefully installed in such a way that it cannot fall inside the tank.
How to Buy the Best Aquarium Pump
1. Submersible or In-Line Aquarium Pump
Air pumps aside, water pumps are available in two types.
Submersible pumps: These are installed inside the water. They are usually very quiet because apart from having their own silencing technology, water helps in dampening the noise and vibrations. However, they occupy space inside the tank and might be a bother to the fish if they are very big.
Because of this, small-sized submersible pumps, such as VicTsing's CAAA3-HG16, are highly recommended, especially if you have a small tank.
In-Line pumps: In-line pumps, such as the EcoPlus 728310, are installed outside the tank. They do not interfere with fish’s space and thus, are very fish friendly.
In-line pumps are therefore the ideal choice for most tanks because they can have a large body to accommodate more pumping power mechanisms inside.
However, with this size, they are usually noisier and more expensive than their submersible counterparts.
2. Aquarium Size
A critical factor to consider before buying any aquarium pump is the compatible aquarium size. All units are rated for a certain aquarium size in which they can provide efficient oxygenation.
For instance, if you own a 70-gallon aquarium, a pump that is rated for a 50 – 100-gallon tank or covering the 70-gallon size will do. A good example is Fluval's Q2.
3. Flow Rate
The flow rate is important to consider because, for air pumps, it shows you the amount of air that you can pump into the water for oxygenation per time. For water pumps, the flow rate shows you the amount of water that you can turn over when oxygenating the water.
Generally, if you have more animals in your tank, you will need a faster flow rate such as the 1056 GPH in Simple Deluxe's LGPUMP1056G so that the water can be sufficiently revitalized to handle the many creatures.
A slow flow rate like the 80 GPH in VicTsing's CAAA3-HG16 will only work if you have fewer animals because they require less oxygen from the water.
4. Ease of Use
An aquarium pump’s ease of use can be considered in 2 ways. First, is the ease of installation. Generally, pumps with suction cups, such as Kedsum's Submersible Pump, are very easy to install.
Although in-line pumps with rubber feet can also be considered as easy to install, they can move around a bit due to the motor’s vibrations, which means that they might require fastening to a rigid surface.
However, with suction cups, once pressed in, the pump can stick on walls of smooth surfaces, including aquarium walls, very easily.
Second is the ease of maintenance. Air pumps like VicTsing's unit generally require little or no maintenance at all and thus, are the easiest to maintain.
With water pumps though, ensure that they can be easily assembled and disassembled as well as cleaned without requiring any tools. For this, check out Homasy's Submersible Pump.
1. Do I really need the aquarium pump?
An aquarium pump is not really necessary if you have a small tank and a filter to clean it. While purifying the water, this filter also circulates the water for aeration purposes. However, if your filter requires an external pump to run it, you will need one for this purpose.
The only instance in which an aquarium pump is necessary is if you own a large aquarium. Due to the large volume of water and possibly a large quantity of fish, a filter will not be enough to aerate the water. You will need to have one or more water or air pumps to help with oxygenation.
2. What size do I need?
This depends on the size of your aquarium. Aquarium pumps are usually rated by tank size and you should check this property before buying to ensure that it is compatible with your tank.
3. How loud is an aquarium pump?
This depends on the technology used to silence the pump. Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB). The lower it is, the quieter the pump.
4. How do I clean my aquarium pump?
For air pumps, cleaning is not really necessary. However, for water pumps, clogging is inevitable. In such times,
- Unplug the pump from the power outlet.
- Disassemble the pump.
- Clean the intake manifold and impeller from any debris.
- Reassemble the pump.
- Install it either as a submersible or in-line pump and plug it in.
Aquarium pumps are important components for keeping your fish healthy. Though not necessary in some instances, they can be used to make the aquarium look lively due to the bubbling, fountain or waterfall effects.
That said, we recommend Simple Deluxe's LGPUMP1056G as the overall best aquarium pump due to its durable design, powerful motor and sponge filter. If you want an air pump, Tetra's Whisper AP300 is a powerful compact option.
However, if you are tight on cash, check out Tetra's 77851.
- Selecting the Right Water Pump for Your Aquarium - LiveAquaria
- 12 Best Aquarium Pumps – Review
- 1. Simple Deluxe LGPUMP1056G – Best Overall Aquarium Pump
- 2. Tetra 77851 – Best Budget Aquarium Pump
- 3. VicTsing CAAA3-HG16 – Best Submersible Pump for Small Aquariums
- 4. Kedsum Submersible Pump – Easy-to-Install Aquarium Pump
- 5. Tiger Pumps Submersible Pump – Acid and Salt Resistant Aquarium Pump
- 6. Homasy Submersible Pump – Aquarium Pump with Adjustable Flow Rate
- 7. EcoPlus 728310 – Versatile Aquarium Pump
- 8. Tetra Whisper AP300 – Deepwater Aquarium Air Pump
- 9. Marineland PF0200B – Aquarium Pump with 3-Stage Filtration
- 10. Fluval Q2 – Quiet Aquarium Air Pump
- 11. Vivosun AP-45 – Heavy-Duty Aquarium Air Pump
- 12. VicTsing Air Pump – Compact Aquarium Air Pump
- How to Buy the Best Aquarium Pump