No matter what kind of pond you have you’ll need a water pump. There are many benefits for having water movement in your pond. These include:
- Water movement prevents stagnation and low oxygen conditions. If the oxygen level drops too low pond fish, snails and other pond life can suffer.
- Splashing water attracts wildlife. Birds are especially fond of water falls and fountains. The sight and sound of trickling water calls the birds to the pond for a drink or bath. You’ll notice a greater variety of birds in your yard when you have moving water in your pond.
- Splashing water breaks up the water surface. Still water tends to collect a natural surface film made up of algae, natural oils from algae and fish food, fish slime and other organic compounds. This can inhibit the exchange of oxygen, carbon dioxide, harmful hydrogen sulfide and other gases between the pond and atmosphere.
- Koi and goldfish like to swim around splashing water. They especially like water falls and splashing fountains.
- The bacteria that make up the biological filter tend to function best when the water contains adequate oxygen. This is especially important in koi ponds filled with large koi that are being fed several times each day.
Water pumps are necessary when using a pond filter. To help you determine what kind of pond pump you need, we’ve created a list of the most common questions pond-keepers ask about pond pumps.
Best Pond Water Pumps Reviews
The TetraPond DHP pond pump has a unique design compared to most other pond pumps.
The outer pump case is part of the intake screen.
The multiple water intake areas This lets the pump run for long periods of time without clogging.
The pre-filter cage prevents leaves, sticks, and other large debris from entering the pump. It also protects the fish from being pulled into the pump.
The impeller is designed to pass debris up to ¼” in size without clogging.
The pump is designed to be submerged in the pond. Outlet size fits tubing 1 ½” or 1 ¼” inches in internal diameter. Flow rates for 5 and 7 feet of head are 2500 and 1800 GPH.
- 3-year warranty.
- Clog-free design.
- Solid construction.
- High reliability.
- Reduced maintenance.
- 15-foot power cord.
The Fish Mate 1900 submersible pond pump is designed for use in fish ponds, water gardens and fountains.
The maximum flow rate is 1850 GPH but the manufacturer does not provide a flowrate chart based on head height.
For the typical ornamental pond with a waterfall, the flow rate is probably closer to 900 GPH.
The Fish Mate has an intake screen but no foam filter. That’s because the pump can pass particles up to ¼”.
Should the pump need cleaning the handle makes it easy to lift out of the water. The intake screen is removable for cleaning the impeller. The impeller user ceramic bearings for long life. The pump has a 24’ power cord for easy installation. A telescopic fountain kit with four spray heads is included. The diverter valve allows the flow to be reduced or split between the fountain and a waterfall.
- Long power cord.
- Not likely to clog with small debris.
- Hose adapter for 3/4" 1" and 1 1/4" tubing.
- Includes fountain kit.
The Alpine Cyclone water pump can be used submerged or in-line, outside of the pond.
The pump is not self-priming but it can be used outside of the water, below the water level.
The pump comes with a very helpful manual that fully describes how to use the pump and how to take it apart for cleaning and parts replacement.
It comes with a barbed hose adapter for hose from ¾” to 1 ½” I.D.
The pump kit includes adapters for attaching PVC and fountain heads directly to the pump. The pump has a grounded 33-foot power cord.
The actual flow rate at 5, 10 and 15 feet is 2251, 1390 and 479 gallons per hour. Dimensions are 13"L x 9"W x 8"H.
- 3-year warranty.
- Extensive manual.
- Long power cord.
- Company provides actual flow rates.
- Intake screen does not have a foam insert to protect against clogging.
The AquaForce submersible water pump features a special pre-filter case that surrounds the water pump intake. The benefit is less clogging and reduced maintenance.
The protective pre-filter cage allows the pump to be placed directly onto the bottom of the pond, without getting clogged with debris.
Easy to use cage clips make it easy to open for maintenance without tools.
The AquaForce uses a hybrid asynchronous motor design that uses less energy to run.
The rotational ball output fitting lets you change the pump discharge position to just about any angle. It also comes with 1.5” and 2” multi-hose fittings.
The flow rate at 5 and 10 feet is 2425 and 1840 GPH. The dimensions are 14”L x 14”W x 6.5”H.
The pump comes with a basic pre-filter screen because large debris stays in the pond and won’t be pulled into a skimmer box. Several flow rates are available in this configuration.
- 3-year warranty.
- Anti-clog design.
- Energy-saving motor.
- Adjustable discharge outlet.
- Easy to take apart for cleaning.
- Hard water can speed wear on the motor.
The Jebao APP-2000 is a submersible magnetic drive water pump.
It is designed for continuous use in ponds and water gardens.
The APP-2000 has a maximum flow rate of 2000 gallons per hour (GPH).
But as we discussed this is at zero head.
Jebao does not provide information on the actual flow rate at different head heights.
The pump inlet and outlet has 1 ½” NPT threads but comes with stepped, barbed hose adapters.
- Plastic construction does not corrode.
- Barbed hose adapters accept ¾” to 1 ½” tubing.
- Compact size - 10 x 8 x 6 inches.
- No specs on flow rates.
- Input screen has no foam insert to prevent clogging.
- Poor reliability.
6. Sequence 750
The Sequence 750 pond pump is an in-line water pump. It is not self-priming and must be positioned below the water line, outside of the pond.
The Sequence 750 uses a centrifugal-style impeller to pump the water.
Centrifugal pumps are energy-efficient and quiet-running. This is especially important when running the pump near the pond.
The 750 comes with an 8-foot power cord. The electric pump motor is an industrial-grade 1/8 horsepower unit.
The pump inlet has 2” FNPT threads. The outlet uses 1 ½” FNPT threads.
The water pump housing has a drain plug. This is helpful when draining the water inside the pump to prevent freezing damage.
The flow rate at 4’, 8’ and 10’ is 2820, 1860 and 1200 GPH. The pump comes with a 3-year warranty.
- Ideal for ponds up to 3,000 gallons.
- Made in USA.
- Energy efficient.
- Short power cord.
Pond Pumps Frequently Asked Questions
Are there different types of pond pumps?
Yes. Pond pumps are all designed to move water but not all pond pumps have the same features.
Most pond pumps intended for small garden ponds and water gardens are designed to be completely submersible. The motor (magnet and wire windings) and the electrical connection is encased and sealed in an epoxy cube. This makes the pump water-proof and safe to submerge under water. The pump motor is cooled by the pond water.
The other type of pond pump is meant to be out of the water. These are called in-line water pumps because they are positioned outside of the pond but lower than the water line. The electric motor is open to the air for cooling.
A third type of pond pump can be submerged or installed in-line. It can be water-cooled or air-cooled.
In general, all pond pumps have a water flow rating in gallons per hour or GPH. Larger pumps are needed to move more water per hour.
How do pond pumps work?
The submersible pumps use the magnetic drive concept.
Magnetic drive refers to the coupling between the pump impeller and the electric motor. The impeller spins and pushes the water. The impeller magnet is surrounded by the motor. The electric motor has no moving parts. It simply creates an electric field that causes the impeller to spin.
Submersible pumps are very simple. Only the impeller moves.
The other style is direct drive.
With direct drive pumps, the impeller of the pump is attached to the shaft of an electric motor. The shaft must be sealed prevent the water from seeping out. Direct drive pumps must be located outside of the pump.
Keep in mind that some magnetic drive pumps are designed to be used in-line only.
Most in-line water pumps are not self-priming. That means they must be positioned below the water line so water is always inside the pump.
Self-priming pumps tend to be larger and are very similar to swimming pool and spa water pumps. They are able to pull water from the pond and into the pump. This means the pump does not have to be placed below the water level.
How do I choose a pond pump?
The type of pond pump you need depends on the size of your pond and what you want to do with the moving water.
A small whiskey barrel water garden will only need a tiny water pump to run a fountain or “spitting” frog statue. A deep koi pond with a big water fall will require a much more powerful water pump.
Pumps are designed to push water uphill. Pond pump flow rates are rated at various head heights. Think of head as the height you need to pump water up to your water fall, ornament or fountain.
As the head height increases, the flow rate and water pressure decreases.
Pond pumps are often rated on their maximum flow rate with zero head. This number may be impressive but is not helpful because all pumps have some type of head pressure they need to overcome.
When selecting a water pump, it is important to know how high you need to pump the water. You need to know what kind of flow rate you want at that head height. If the pump is too small for the head, flow rate will be very low or even non-existent.
Measure the head height and then compare the flow rates provided on the pump box or specification sheet.
It is often recommended to select a pump slightly larger than you think you’ll need. Water traveling through a curved hose causes friction loss and reduced flow.
If you’re pumping water through a submerged filter, you’ll need some extra flow too.
If you find you have too much flow, insert a diverter valve between the pump (under the water) and the waterfall or ornament. The diverted lets you send some flow directly into the pond and reduce the flow rate through the fountain, waterfall, etc.
Pond pumps use electricity. Using a pump that is too large just wastes energy. For the best efficiency carefully select a pump that is only slightly larger than you need.
The general rule for pump sizing is to circulate the entire gallonage of the pond once every one to two hours.
Selecting a water pump for a waterfall
Calculating the right size pump for a waterfall might seem daunting. Don’t worry. Here is a simple way to figure it out.
Select a waterfall pump that moves 100 gallons per hour for every inch of waterfall width. For example: for an 18-inch wide waterfall, use an 1800 gallon-per-hour pump (calculated for the head height).
For a gentler flow, use a 900-1800 gallon-per-hour pump. For a roaring flow use a 2400-3600 gallon-per-hour Pump. These figures can be adjusted for any waterfall.
What about pond filters?
There are many sizes and styles of pond filters. Some pond filters sit on the bottom of the pond with the submersible pump. The pump pulls water through the filter.
As the filter clogs, the flow rate will decrease indicating it’s time to service the filter. Some pond filters sit outside the pond. Water is pumped into the filter and drains back into the pond. Most pond filters provide water flow suggestions.
Just match the water flow rates to a water pump flow rate (at the calculated head) and everything will work perfectly.
How do I connect my water pump to a filter, fountain or waterfall?
Small water pumps designed for miniature fountains usually come as a kit complete with a fountain head. All you have to do is submerge the pump and plug it in.
If you want to run a small statue you’ll have to run a piece of hose from the water pump to the ornamental statue.
Most water gardeners use flexible tubing to run a hose from the pump to a waterfall or other water features. Black hose is available in many sizes. It is very flexible and blends into the landscape. You’ll be able to route the hose so it is hidden under rocks or around landscaping.
Large koi ponds that have to moves thousands of gallons of water per hour require very powerful “professional” water pumps. In many installations, rigid PVC piping is used to route the water underground to large filters and waterfalls. These types of systems are usually installed by professionals. Some large in-line pumps are noisy and are positioned far away from the pond.
In general, external pumps are noisier than submerged pumps.
Where do I position the pump?
Submersible pumps can be placed anywhere on the bottom of the pond. Ideally the pump should sit slightly above the bottom. This protects the pump from becoming clogged with sludge, soil and other debris that collects on the bottom.
In-line pumps are positioned outside of the pond, below the water level. Some pond keepers excavate a below-ground chamber for pumps that do not self-prime.
Professional pond installations sometimes use self-priming pumps, which are placed in a distant pump house to reduce noise and improve the appearance around the pond.
How do I get electricity to my pump?
Most pond pumps come with a long, grounded power cord. Just plug the power cord into a nearby electrical outlet. A GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter)-protected is recommended as a safety factor. Local electrical codes should be followed.
Larger external pond pumps may require an electrician to properly wire the circuit.
Small pond and fountain kits are available that run on solar power. The kits come with a solar collector to power the pump. Solar powered pumps have lower flow rates and are limited to running small fountains.
Since there is no battery back-up, the pumps will only run when the sun is out. Solar-powered pumps are perfect for small barrel ponds that do not contain goldfish.
Do I need to run my water pump continuously?
One of the main benefits of moving, splashing water is that helps oxygenate the water. Goldfish, koi and other oxygen-breathing pond life need aerated water to survive.
Oxygen levels can drop significantly at night and when a low-pressure weather system passes through.
The warmer the water, the less oxygen it can hold.
For all these reasons, it is advisable to run the pump continuously during the season.
What about winter?
Pond life slows down as the water cools. When the water freezes it is important to keep an open hole in the ice to allow for oxygen and other gases to balance out in the water.
A low-wattage pond heater will efficiently maintain a small opening in the ice, allowing fish and other aquatic life to remain alive.
Pond pump recommendations
Pond pump quality and reliability varies from brand to brand.
The tiny fountain pumps used for spitting frogs and bird baths are so inexpensive that they are considers “throw-away” items if they break. You may consider a solar-powered pump for small water features like barrels and bird baths that don’t contain fish.
However, if you have a larger pond or water garden you’ll want a reliable water pump that will last for years. A broken pump can result in dead fish, especially during hot weather.
For most water gardens and goldfish ponds under 5,000 gallons the TetraPond Debris-Handling Pump is a winner. The pump has solid construction and won’t easily clog.
If your pond filtration system uses an external in-line pump, the Sequence series of external water pumps is highly recommended. Made in the U.S., the Sequence pumps are a favorite with professional pond and fountain builders. They are durable, rebuildable and have a 3-year warranty.