3 Types of Water Pumps for Aquarium Tanks

When it comes to keeping a stable and healthy environment in your tank, the aquarium water pump will be a critical crucial part, right? So what is the role and types of water pumps and how do select the right one? If you have similar questions, you can get answers from this article.

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What does a water pump do in a tank

Generally speaking, an aquarium water pump plays an important role in keeping good water quality by circulating and filtering the water in the aquarium system. The water pump can create water movement, which enables aeration by mixing the water on the surface and the rest. It provides oxygen and nutrients for fish. It is important for many creatures in tanks. For example, the coral may become poor in health if it lacks water movement. Besides, it can prevent the disease of fish through regular and frequent circulation.

Types of aquarium water pumps

Before introducing how to get the right water pump, we would like to cover the types of water pumps in aquariums so that you could have an overview of them. There are types of aquarium water pumps – submersible water pumps, in-line water pumps, and DC water pumps.

Submersible water pump

The submersible water pump is entirely submerged in the water and runs completely underwater. Most small water pump features low noise and easy installation. But it requires an additional cooling system if your pump is big enough. Because while using submersible water pumps in tanks, the heat will be transferred to the water due to it needs water to cool itself. An additional cooling system can decrease the higher temperature.

Moreover, when the heat of the submersible water pump is transferred to the water, the fish that are sensitive to the change in water temperature will be affected negatively.

In-line water pump

The in-line water pump is used out of the water and works by connecting to an inlet and outlet hose. It is not waterproof, and it can manipulate more water than a submersible water pump but needs more maintenance. It is suitable for aquarium systems, which need to maintain low temperatures and handle a large amount of water. Exactly, it is perfect for large tanks. Besides, it adds less heat to the water, because it is air-cooled.

The in-line water pump is the centrifugal pump. The flow of fluid will not change inside the in-line water pump. So in-line water pump is used for the water heating and circulation systems most of the time.

Here is one disadvantage of an in-line water pump. That is the noise. Because the in-line water pump is placed outside the tank, the noise will be louder than a submersible water pump due to there is no water to moderate the motor’s sound.

DC water pump

The DC water pump is convenient, easy to control, and safe. Take Hygger 915 DC Water Pump as an example, it can shut off automatically when it senses no water or water is too low. And it has an external LED display controller with a 71 flow speed setting. For this function, you can control the flow rate from 30% to 100% of the top-speed flow. Besides, it can work externally or be submerged in tanks, but the controller is not waterproof.

When you use it as an inline water pump, you should not let it runs in dry condition, or the motor will get damaged. In addition, you should place it at a position lower than the water level.

When you use it as an internal submersible water pump, please notice that its max working water depth is 5 feet, and its working water temp is 34-95 Fahrenheit degrees. Besides, you should regularly check and clean the pump. Equally important, you should keep the controller indoors.

Choosing the right water pump for the tank pump water well

Different pumps fit different tanks. Take a saltwater fish tank as an example, it requires a higher flow rate of water, and a small water pump is perfect. The size of the aquarium and creatures, plants, and filtration in the tank determines the capacity and size of a water pump. So how can we choose the right submersible pump for the tank water well? There are some tips!

The power of the water pump

When you choose a water pump, you should consider the following factors: the size of the aquarium, the form of filtration, and the density and species of fish. In general, if the aquarium is large, the density of fish will be large. For this case, a large power water pump will be suitable for the aquarium.

The water you need to move

You should know the favorite flow rate of your fish before choosing the water pump. If you know it, you can determine how much water you need to move. So you can provide the best flow rate for your fish. For the flow rate of the water pump, it is better to circulate the whole water in freshwater tanks about 3-5 times per hour. You should ensure that the flow rate of your water pump is not too high, or it will lead to too much circulation that inflicts damage to fish.

The head height of your tank

The head height of your tank will affect the flow of water. It is the height that has to be pumped against gravity. And the higher of height, the less the flow rate of water.

The GPH of a pump

If the GPH of a water pump is high, the fish in your tank will gain a great flow of cleaning and oxygenized water. The flow rate of water pumps should be three to five times higher than the volume of the aquarium. Take a 20 gallon freshwater aquarium as an example, it needs a flow rate between 60-100 GPH. Moreover, take a 75 gallons freshwater aquarium as an example, it needs a flow rate between 225-375 GPH.

The Hygger 919 Electric Water Pump 18 Watts and 40 Watts are suitable for it. Its flow rates respectively are 215 GPH and 400 GPH. But it is better to select the water pump whose flow rate is five times higher than the volume of the tank. Because the obstacles in the tank would affect the flow rate of the water pump, and then affects the flow of the tank.


Time to say goodbye, friends. Tips again, aquarium pumps include an aquarium water pump and an aquarium air pump. In summary, factors, including power, flow rate, and head height, should be considered in the choice of water pumps. By the way, the quality of pumps is also an important factor. Because if your water pumps are of poor quality, there will be great safety hazards. And if you want to know more about submersible water pumps, you can read this article – What is the Use of Submersible Water Pump. Finally, thank you for your reading!

Comments (2)

  1. What is the best water pump for a fifty gallon aquarium? Thank you for your help, I appreciate, any advice?

    Malcolm McCaleb
    Sep 7, 2022 Reply
    • Hi Malcolm, 50 gallons are approximately equal to 190L. Generally, the water pump flow rate is 3 times or 5 times the tank water capacity, 50*5=250 GPH, hygger Electric Water Pump 40W is the best pump for your fifty-gallon aquarium.

      Sep 8, 2022 Reply

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