The 5 Best Aquarium Water Pumps

A water pump is essential to keeping the environment in your aquarium healthy for your aquatic plants and animals. Here we will look at the Best Aquarium Water Pumps and review the key items to consider when selecting a pump for your system.

Best Aquarium Water Pumps

Pawfly Aquarium Air Pump 2 W, 1.8 L/min flow rate
1.3 x 1.8 x 1.6 inches
Aqueon Quietflow Submersible Pump 1200 21 W, 317 GPH max flow rate
5.75 feet max head
1.9 x 2.9 x 5.4 inches
Aquatop NP-302 Submersible Pump 6 W, 130 GPH adjustable flow rate
27 inch max head
1.2 x 1.8 x 2 inches
KEDSUM 880GPH Submersible Aquarium Water Pump
(Amazon's Choice)
100 W, 880 GPH max flow rate
13 feet max lift height
1.1 x 5.1 x 3.9 inches
Mylivell Quietest Aquarium Air Pump 100 W, 880 GPH max flow rate
13 feet max lift height
1.1 x 5.1 x 3.9 inches


Here on some things to consider when choosing the Best Aquarium Water Pumps:

1. Why is a water pump needed?

A pump keeps the tank clean by moving water to and from the filtration system. It also creates water currents, helps drain and fill the tank for cleaning, and pushes water through other devices such as UV sterilizers and protein skimmers.

2. What do I determine the proper flow rate for my aquarium?

The water volume of the aquarium should be turned over four to five times an hour, which means that the pump should move four to five times as many gallons per hour (GPH) as your tank holds. If you have large fish or a reef tank, you may need a higher flow rate.

3. What else should I consider when determining flow rate?

For live plants or very small fish, you may need a slightly lesser flow rate. You should also consider head height, elbow turns in plumbing, and the size of the outlet tubing when calculating GPH.

4. How do I select a pump size?

First determine the flow rate for your size aquarium. Second, calculate the head height, which is the distance between the pump and the highest point it will need to pump water. Then use flow chart for the specific brand of pump to find the model the fits your required GPH and head height.

5. What is a submersible pump?

A submersible pump is placed inside the aquarium and is quieter than an in-line pump since it is underwater.

6. What is an in-line pump?

An in-line pump is placed outside the aquarium and must be kept completely dry.

7. What is an in-line pressure setup?

In a pressure setup, the water pump is installed before the canister filter and forces water through the filter.

8. What is an in-line free flow setup?

In a free flow setup, the water pump is installed after the filter and directs the water from the sump to the aquarium.

9. What are the advantages and disadvantages of an in-line pumps?

An in-line pump doesn’t take up any space inside your aquarium or effect the water temperature, but you will need some additional space outside the tank to house the pump. If your tank does not have predesigned holes, you will need to drill them for the inlet and outlet hoses.

10. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a submersible pump?

It is the easiest to install so you won’t need any additional space to house the pump, and you won’t have to drill holes in your tank. It does, however, take up space in your tank and can make the water temperature warmer.

11. What basic accessories are needed for the water pump?

You will need to purchase hoses/tubing, connectors, clamps and ball valves for your water pump system.

12. What other accessories will I need?

You may also want additional devices to control filtration or temperature such as UV sterilizers, protein skimmers and chillers.

13. Are there special pumps for saltwater aquariums?

Most pumps are compatible with both fresh water and saltwater aquariums, but an optional saltwater shaft seal is recommended.

14. How do I determine what size tubing I need?

Your water pump will specify what size hoses/tubing are needed to fit the inlet and outlet pipe fitting threads for that pump. You should never reduce the size of the inlet tube for your pump.

15. Does it matter what type filtration system I have?

Yes, you should choose a pump that fits the type of filtration system on your aquarium.

16. What is a UV sterilizer?

A UV sterilizer targets algae and other microorganism that can affect your fish and turn the water green, helping to keep the water clean.

17. What is a protein skimmer?

A protein skimmer removes organic waste material from the aquarium and supplements the filtration system.

18. What is a chiller?

A chiller prevents the aquarium water from rising above a pre-set temperature.

19. What is a heater?

A heater is needed for tropical fish to ensure that the water temperature remains warm enough.

20. Why does an aquarium need air bubbles?

The air bubbles increase the oxygen level in the water.


1. Pawfly Aquarium Air Pump



This in-line pump is extremely affordable and is designed for smaller tanks up to 10 gallons. It comes with everything needed to get up and running quickly – a check valve, air stone and tubing. It’s powerful enough to keep a good flow of air moving through the tank and produces a fair amount of bubbles. The supplied tubing is five feet long, allowing you to conceal the air pump away from the tank. It has rubber feet to keep it stable and reduce vibrations and noise.


  • Comes with all accessories so no need to purchase them separately
  • Works quietly with low power consumption
  • Inexpensive, setup is quick and easy


  • Tubing is not high quality, can become cloudy and leave a film in water
  • If not on a flat surface, can be noisy
  • Tubing can come loose if pump is vibrating

2. Aqueon Quietflow Submersible Pump 1200



This pump was designed for use with both under cabinet sump filtration systems or any submerged water circulation needs. Aqueon tested its pumps for over two years to develop the most reliable, energy-efficient, and quiet submersible pump possible. The pump is fully submersible and has an adjustable flow rate. It comes with a suction cup mount and a grounded power cord and is UL listed. The pump is ideal for fresh or saltwater systems.


  • Quiet and energy efficient with an adjustable flow rate
  • Easy to install and customize, stepped adapted for use with multiple tubing sizes
  • Fully submersible, high performance, low maintenance pump


  • Larger size so may not be ideal if you have limited space
  • Can be noisy during break in period, but seems to quiet down after two weeks of use

3. Aquatop NP-302 Submersible Pump



This pump is ideal for small to medium sized aquariums and runs on only seven watts, making it very energy efficient. It is fully submersible and comes with four section cups to hold the pump in place. It is small yet powerful, capable of pumping 130-gallons per hour, and has an adjustable flow rate.


  • Small so it doesn’t take up space and you can easily hide it
  • The flow rate is adjustable.
  • It works for both fresh and salt water.
  • It’s designed to make very little noise.


  • Some people have reported trouble with the setup and attachments
  • The filter sponge can become clogged, decreasing air flow

4. KEDSUM 880GPH Submersible Aquarium Water Pump


This pump was designed for mano to midsized aquariums. It offers great water movement with little noise. It features a low-profile design and has built-in suction feet help keep the pump in place and an adjustable flow dial. The pump has three outlet adapters to ensure it can connect to a range of pipe sizes and has a 4.9 foot power cord.


  • Powerful Speed Flow (max 880 GPH) and Max Lift Height (up to 13 Feet)
  • Quiet and Energy Efficient: 100 W, Voltage: 110V
  • Compact size makes the water pump easy to hide or disguise
  • Features 3 Outlet Adapters providing for different water flows


  • The inner shaft needs lubricant from time to time so may not be suitable for sensitive fish or plants
  • Filter clogs quickly and requires frequent cleaning
  • Suction cups come off easily when moving pump

5. Mylivell Quietest Aquarium Air Pump


This pump was developed to be ultra-quiet, making it a great choice for the bedroom, living room or anyplace where noise can be a problem. The pump runs on a thin piezoelectric ceramic plate and does not have a motor or shaft. It’s compact and lightweight design includes a suction cup on the back so that it easily attaches to the outside of the tank. The pump ships with all required tubing and an air stone.


  • Air pump with no motor so it is quieter than traditional water pumps
  • Compact and lightweight for easy use, suction cup for easy installation
  • Energy Saving: uses only 1.8 watts with a flow rate of 240 ml/min
  • High-efficiency airstone produces a nice pace of bubbles


  • It is not waterproof and must be kept completely dry
  • Many users have reported lower than expected pressure so better suited for small tanks

How to make an Air Pump




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