If you have saltwater, freshwater aquarium, or a reef tank, you probably already know how important the right filtration system is.
If you’ve spent a lot of time figuring out the filter media to use and making sure the water chemistry is right but can’t quite figure out why your tank isn’t thriving, it might be that something is missing.
By installing one of the best aquarium powerheads, you can make sure your aquarium is the perfect environment for your plants, fish, or coral.
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What is an Aquarium Powerhead Used For
Good water movement is important to a healthy aquarium. It helps plants, corals, beneficial bacteria, and even your fish and animal life to thrive.
If you have appropriate filters in your tank but inadequate water circulation, your tank isn’t benefiting as much as you would think.
Basically, the spots of water directly in front of the filter itself circulates through the pump multiple times while the water in the corners isn’t getting any treatment. The same is true for heaters in a heated tank.
So, what’s the solution?
Make sure you keep the water circulating effectively throughout the entire tank. The best way to do that is to use an aquarium powerhead.
It’s important to point out that a powerhead is not a filter and does not treat the water in any way. It’s a pump that’s meant to be placed underwater in your tank so keep the water moving around.
The 10 Best Powerheads For Freshwater & Marine Reef Tanks
|Picture||Aquarium Powerhead||Flow Rate||Links|
|Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump||240, 425, 565 GPH|
|Cobalt Aquatics MJ Multipurpose Powerhead||106, 160, 230, 295 GPH|
|SUNSUN JVP Series Submersible Circulation Powerhead Pump||530, 800 GPH|
|MarineLand Penguin Submersible PowerHead Pump for Aquariums||145, 170, 300 GPH|
|AquaClear 50 Powerhead||270 GPH|
|Odyssea EX Powerhead Water Pump Submersible||250, 350 GPH|
|Super Aquatic JVP-102A Aquarium Circulation Pump Power Head||1300 GPH|
|AquaTop MaxFlow Aquarium Power Head||211, 343, 475, 608 GPH|
|AQUANEAT Powerhead Submersible Aquarium Water Pump||60, 160, 450, 650 GPH|
|Marineland Maxi-Jet Pro Pump for Aquariums||110, 160, 230, 295 GPH|
Aquarium Powerheads Reviews
1. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump
This powerhead from Hydor is a great choice because it’s both compact and energy-efficient. It’s also pretty versatile and can be used in marine, freshwater, and tropical aquariums.
One of the best things about it is it won’t disturb your fish. It has a built-in anti-vibration system that keeps the noise down so as to not bother your fish or anything else that calls your tank home.
Adjusting the flow direction is as easy as turning the simple ball joint. It rotates a full 360 degrees so you can get pretty much any flow direction and create a natural water motion.
Attaching to the side of the tank is simple, too. Just use the simple magnetic suction cups and it will stay securely in place.
2. Cobalt Aquatics MJ Multipurpose Powerhead
Cobalt Aquatics makes this great multi-use powerhead that’s fully submersible and can tolerate even the harshest conditions. It has a fully rotational output to get the current flowing exactly how you want it.
One or two of these placed in your aquarium in the right place and all the debris will find its way to the filter, making water clearer and cleaner.
This powerhead has a universal intake tube and an adjustable venturi that even has a silencer to keep the noise down so as not to disturb your fish. It also has an easy to use the triple suction cup mount and a long power cord for easy positioning.
3. SUNSUN JVP Series Submersible Circulation Powerhead Pump
SUNSUN makes a fully submersible powerhead that cycles 800 GPH. It’s designed to be easy to use. All you have to do to position it is rotate it on the articulating ball joint to create the perfect currant.
You can turn it a whole 360 degrees so you’re able to really fine-tune the water flow. It’s completely submersible and the motor runs oil-free so you don’t have to worry about introducing any contaminants.
If you’re looking for a way to eliminate dead spots and create a more ocean-like environment for your fish, corals, and plants, this is a great pump to try.
Installation is really easy, just use the durable suction cups to attach it to the aquarium wall then plug it in to start the current going.
4. MarineLand Penguin Submersible PowerHead Pump for Aquariums
The Penguin pump has a compact design and laboratory testing for reliability. Setup and installation are really easy so you can get your aquarium set up quickly and get the flow going right away. If you want to increase oxygenation, all you have to do is place it close to the surface to increase agitation.
The custom air valve lets you easily adjust the flow so you can get the current just right for your freshwater or marine aquarium. It’s completely submersible so you can place it anywhere in your tank.
Plus, it has an air filter that eliminates noise and takes care of any dust and debris that could get into the system.
5. AquaClear 50 Powerhead
The best thing about the AquaClear Powerhead is that it’s so versatile. You can use it for under-gravel filters, to oxygenate the water, plus you can even add some filtration accessories.
It’s compact size and completely submersible design means that it can be easily hidden while still providing all the benefits.
Because it’s insulated in epoxy resin, it’s extra durable and keeps the unit protected against harsh water environments. The easy to adjust flow means you have a lot of control over the current.
Installation is simple, too, just use the convenient suction cups to place it anywhere in the tank. It has a flow rate of 270 GPH and it practically silent when operating.
6. Odyssea EX Powerhead Water Pump Submersible
Odyssea’s Powerhead pump has a flow rate of 350 GPH which is perfect for a 40 to 60-gallon tank. It’s a good choice for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.
It’s easy to install using simple suction cups. Plus, it also has an airline and strainer to keep debris out of the pump.
This is a pretty simple, compact design that’s surprisingly strong. It’s easy to control, too, by adjusting the direction of the output spout.
It easily snaps into place and won’t come apart, even with high water pressure. Not only does it provide uninterrupted water circulation, you can also add optional accessories and use it as another filter.
7. Super Aquatic JVP-102A Aquarium Circulation Pump Power Head
This aquarium powerhead from SUN is a simple, easy-to-use option that delivers results. Installation is simple. Just use the included suction cup to attach the powerhead to any glass or acrylic surface.
The articulating ball joint allows you to reposition the flow 360 degrees so you can get exactly the setup you want. This makes it really easy to get movement in those areas of the tank that are otherwise difficult to reach.
Because this product uses a grease-free, oil-free magnetic motor, it requires minimal maintenance and the ceramic impeller shaft is much stronger than plastic ones and made to last a long time. It cycles at 1300 GPH and is not compatible with timers or controllers.
8. AquaTop MaxFlow Aquarium Power Head
The AquaTop Maxflow submersible powerhead is ideal for powering filtration systems below the gravel or providing water movement for reef aquariums. It’s built to withstand both freshwater and saltwater environments and is a versatile addition to any tank.
This product is available in multiple sizes with cycle rates between 211 GPH and 608 GPH and mounts to the side of the tank using two integrated suction cups. It includes an optional air intake and air regulator so you can choose to aerate the water as needed.
AquaTop products are reliable and well-known in the industry and this powerhead is no exception. It’s made of high-impact ABS, compatible with most sponge filters, and covered by a 90-day warranty.
9. AQUANEAT Powerhead Submersible Aquarium Water Pump
If you’re in the market for an aquarium powerhead that’s multifunctional, this one from Aquaneat might be the perfect choice for you. It’s suitable for freshwater or saltwater and features a strainer to prevent debris from entering the pump.
There are no seals or oil to worry about and you can mount it horizontally or vertically. You can use it to circulate, aerate, and pump water to create movement and help you maintain a healthy environment for your fish.
This powerhead is available in multiple sizes with options that cycle 60, 160, 450, and 650 GPH. The pump. aeration tubing, suction cups, and strainer are included. All you need is the hose and you’ll be ready to go.
10. Marineland Maxi-Jet Pro Pump for Aquariums
A great option for a multifunction powerhead is the Maxi-Jet from Marineland. It’s three pumps in one and is fully adaptable for a range of uses in your aquarium. Use it as a powerhead, utility pump, or circulation pump to get just the setup you need for your tank environment.
This is a good choice for powering under gravel filters, setting up a wavemaker, or powering a skimmer or small fountain. A conversion kit is included to change it to a circulation pump if needed.
There are multiple sizes to choose from so you’ll be able to find one with just the right amount of power for your tank. Choose from pumps with powerhead modes that cycle 110, 160, 230, and 295 GPH.
How to Choose an Aquarium Powerhead?
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an aquarium powerhead.
Aquarium Tank Size
Larger tanks with a lot of fish require a powerhead. It’s an effective way to get fish waste out of the corners and to the filter.
If your tank is 100 gallons or more, you might even consider getting more than one to make sure the current reaches all four corners.
Water Flow Rate
Powerheads are rated by how many times the water in the aquarium is circulated every hour. It’s measured in gallons per hour or GPH.
How fast you need the turnover depends on what you have in your aquarium and how many gallons it is. Also, remember that you’ll need to reevaluate the tank flow as your aquarium grows and expands.
Types of Aquarium
The kind of tank you have will affect your choice, too. Why?
Because if you have a freshwater aquarium or a planted tank, it won’t use the same powerhead that’s a fit for the reef tank.
One common concern with aquariums is the noise level. If you have a tank with a heater and a filter, you might be worried about adding a powerhead, too.
Since they’re designed to be installed underwater, the noise is usually muffled but you should still make sure the model you’re thinking about has good reviews when it comes to sound.
Aquarium Powerhead Brands
Some of the best powerhead brands are as follows: Hydor, SUNSUN, Cobalt, Penguin, and Aquaclear.
What is the Best Powerhead For a Reef Tank?
The Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump is the best powerhead if you’re looking for something for your reef tank. It was actually specifically designed for small reef tanks. It’s easy to install using simple magnetic suction cups.
Plus, because of its compact size, you can place it anywhere. It runs quietly and won’t disturb your reef or any of the marine life you might have in it.
One of the best things about this powerhead is how easy it is to adjust the flow. It has a simple ball joint so you can rotate and turn it a full 360 degrees.
That means you can get the water going in any direction to get a natural, ocean-like current going. This also comes in really handy as time goes on and your reef continues to grow because it’s so easy to make adjustments.
How Does an Aquarium Powerhead Work?
Powerheads have sealed motors which mean that they are safe to submerge underwater. They can be used for a few different purposes but the main reason to use one is to circulate the water in your aquarium.
The way they work is pretty simple. They pull water in one side and force it out the other side through an outflow spout. Depending on where you place the powerhead in the tank and the way you position the powerhead, you get pretty good control over the way the current moves in the tank.
The current created by a powerhead get the water moving in all the little areas in your aquarium that aren’t in easy reach of the filter. Basically, the water moves around more which means that the detritus and other debris that usually hides in the corners and gravel is shaken loose. It can then continue to circulate through the water so that it can make its way toward the filter for removal.
Also, because the water is constantly moving, there’s less chance of algae growth. The more the water circulates, the cleaner it will be. A powerhead is an effective and economical way to make this happen.
Another function of the current created by a powerhead is to help your fish, coral, and plants stay healthy. Moving water brings them oxygen, food, and encourages them to move around. It’s important to research how much current the living things in your tank actually need. Corals and some anemones don’t like a lot of motion while other organisms thrive on it.
How to Install an Aquarium Powerhead?
Installation varies slightly depending on the model but the basic installation goes something like this.
Before we get started, some safety checks. Examine the powerhead to make sure there’s no cracks or damage. Be very careful to keep the power cord away from the water.
Make sure that no water can splash the plug or that water isn’t going to run down the cord to the plug. You should also never use a powerhead with an extension cord. Now, here’s how you go about installation.
First, place the powerhead in the tank. It’s designed to be submerged so make sure it’s completely underwater. After you’re satisfied with the placement, you can plug it into the outlet.
Again, keep the plug dry and plug it directly into the wall. Make sure the power cord is out of the way so that no one can trip over it.
That’s about it! Installation is pretty simple. Positioning, though, that’s another thing.
Where to Put Powerhead in Aquarium?
The placement of a powerhead depends on a few factors. The first thing you need to consider is the kind of organisms in your tank. As we mentioned, some will thrive with a strong current, some won’t.
For tanks with live, growing water plants, you should try to mimic the current in their natural environment. So, aim to mimic the bottom of a lake or ocean.
Depending on how your tank is designed, you may need to aerate more by placing the powerhead so it agitates the surface to introduce oxygen to the water then use the current to circulate it down to the plants.
For saltwater reef tanks, it’s extremely important to mimic their natural environment. Coral is less forgiving than a planted tank so it’s really important to get it right. You’ll need to do some research to figure out how much oxygen the kind of coral you’re growing get naturally and then adjust accordingly.
Tank size is an important consideration, too. For tanks less than 20 gallons, one large powerhead can usually do the job. The tank is small enough that you can use all the walls and corners to control the flow because the current will have enough force behind it from the powerhead to continue to circulate. Larger tanks may require multiple pumps because the force from one will only be able to move the water in a small section of the tank.
If you want to create some surface movement and oxygenate, place the pump closer to the surface. If you’re more concerned with a deeper current, stay closer to the bottom.
It’s important to have a good filter and the right filter media if you want to have a healthy tank but it’s often not enough. Filters can only clean the water that’s right in from of them and what can happen is the same water cycles through the system while stagnant water sits at the bottom or in the corners that never actually makes it to the filter’s intake.
An easy and affordable way to combat this is to use an aquarium powerhead. While some powerheads can be adapted to act as a second filter, their main purpose is to create a current that will help the water cycle more efficiently. Keep in mind that you may need more than one to get an effective current in a large tank.
Getting the current right has a lot of benefits for your tank and the organisms in it. It can deliver food, vitamins, and minerals effectively and encourage your fish to stay active. That said, it’s also very important to research the living things in your tank. Some plants don’t like a strong current while other fish and animals thrive in one. This is particularly important when it comes to coral, which can be really sensitive.
The Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump is a great pump that’s versatile enough for almost any tank but is particularly good for coral. It’s easily adjustable so you’ll be able to give your growing tank just what it needs. Plus, once your coral starts to grow, changing the current is really easy, too.