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The Best Submersible Water Pumps for Your Aquarium

A little child studying fishes in a fish tank.
Tomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock

Submersible aquarium water pumps draw in water through a filter to produce clean water that is sent back into the aquarium. Basically, they are a must-have for aquariums as they are essential to the health of your aquatic pets and their environment. The abundant water movement, ample oxygen, and clear water that comes from a submerged water pump will keep your school of fish happily swimming. Whether your aquarium is big or small, fresh or saltwater, spacious or crowded, a water pump is essential. Here are some fantastic submersible water pumps that we recommend.

What to Keep in Mind When Shopping for a Pump

If you are looking to maintain your tank’s healthy environment with a water pump, consider these key factors:

  • Water Type: Different environments require different flow rates. If you have a saltwater aquarium, you will need to look for a pump with a more powerful flow. Some pumps are even built to create ocean-like waves the help to mimic your fish’s natural habitat. Freshwater aquariums should avoid pumps that create currents, as traditional freshwater pets need calmer environments to thrive.
  • Pump Size: If you have a small tank, lots of aquarium decor, or multiple fish, there are some tiny pumps on the market that will fit your fish’s lifestyle. Keep an eye on the power of a mini pump, as only some can still create the necessary high flow rates. Also, think about how you’re using the pump. Do you want to be able to hide the pump to ensure a beautiful display?
  • Functions: There are so many design variations and functions in water pumps that purchasing one can feel overwhelming. You will find submersible aquarium pumps that light up in an array of colors for a beautiful shimmer that will mesmerize guests. There are also pumps that sit quietly behind rock or coral and won’t disturb the fish. If your pet has highly specific needs, consider a water pump that has time-interval, wave, and power controls.

Best Overall: FREESEA 160-1100 GPH Submersible Water Pump

The green and black FREESEA water pump laying on its side on the left of the picture. On the right, a sideview of the same water pump.

The FREESEA submersible water pump is an all-around decent product for simple aquarium set-ups. This pump sits on the bottom of the aquarium and pushes water vertically, with a maximum lift of 3.6 feet. It’s a powerful pump, but it’s actually quite small in size at 5.5 by 4.3 by 6.6 inches. The efficiency motor helps save energy and runs quietly at less than 20 DB. Fish owners are able to adjust the flow rate of the pump as needed for your fish tank’s specifications. If the water level dips too low for the water pump, this FREESEA device will automatically cut power to decrease the motor temperature. If you want to explore the possibilities a little, take the FREESEA outside to your pond or use it as a garden waterfall.

Best Overall

FREESEA 160 GPH 12W Submersible Water Pump for Pond Aquarium Hydroponics Fish Tank Fountain Waterfall

This submersible aquarium water pump automatically powers off when there is no water to prevent dry running.

Best with Lights: KEDSUM 130GPH Submersible Pump

A small blue and black water pump with water shooting from its top spout.

For all the color lovers out there, KEDSUM designed this submersible aquarium pump for you. The model is equipped with 12 LED lights in red, yellow, green, and blue. The vibrant colors will glitter off of your aquatic pets. The KEDSUM is a mini pump, measuring 2 by 2.4 by 1.6 inches, allowing it to light up even the smallest aquariums. This little pump is easy to hide inside the tank. Mount the pump onto the aquarium glass vertically or horizontally using the suction cups. The maximum flow rate on this mini pump is 130 GPH and is adjustable to fit the environment of the aquarium. You can also adjust the lift height up to 3 feet.

Best for Saltwater: hygger Submersible Aquarium Powerhead Fish Wavemaker Pump

Black water pump with dual rotating pump heads.

While the hygger submersible water pump works for both fresh and saltwater tanks, its capacity to mimic the natural currents of the ocean makes it great for saltwater fish. This pump manages to do so largely because of its 360-degree rotating pump head. The range of motion makes it possible to create a wave-like water flow and increases oxygen levels. This pump’s powerful flow rates at 2000 GPH, making it ideal for large tanks from 75 to 130 gallons. In addition to these benefits, the pump aids in cleaning the water, stirring up the environment, and creating a more natural habitat.

Best for Saltwater

hygger Submersible Aquarium Powerhead 2000GPH Fish Tank Wavemaker Circulation Pump for Freshwater Saltwater, 360 Degree Rotatable Head Pump 16W

This pump is ideal for saltwater aquariums because it supplies a high flow rate and additional oxygen.

Best with Remote: hygger Quiet Wave Maker with Digital LED Display Controller

External control with lit-up LED display being used with a tank full of colorful fish.

You scarcely need to move to adjust the waves on this submersible aquarium pump. The LED digital display controller allows you to schedule your fish’s day. The preset function splits up the day into five time intervals. You can also create your own wave intervals among four wave modes: pulse, sine, constant speed, and random wave. This water pump takes customization even further with the adjustable wave speeds and Watts. Another feature you may find attractive is the magnetic suction mount. It’s easy to hide or stick to the inside wall of the tank, and the motor runs quietly at lower than 30 DB.

Best with Remote

hygger Quiet Magnetic Aquarium Wave Maker, 1600GPH DC 12V Powerhead with Digital Led Display Controller, Submersible Water Inverter Circulation Pump for Fish Tank 3-25 Gallon

Be in control of the waves, timing, and watts of your tank through the many functions that come with this wavemaker pump.

Best Mini Pump: PULACO 50GPH 3W Mini Submersible Water Pump for Aquariums

A mini water pump spraying water from the top spout on the top left of the picture. The water pump on its side next to two suction cups on the bottom right.

If you are looking for something tiny but might, PULACO has the water pump for you. Their 50 GBH, 3W pump is 1.5 by 1.5 by 1.1 inches. Now, that’s tiny! And being a mini pump, it won’t shock you that it’s light too, weighing only 5.3 ounces. The submersible pump flow rate is adjustable up to 50 GPH. The water flow can also reach up to 2 feet with just a turn of the nob. The pump is easy to clean as no tools are needed. You can use it outside of the aquarium as a pet or garden fountain, or a hydroponic system for your plants. Be creative!

Best Mini Pump
Britta Kallevang Britta Kallevang
Britta is a professional writing tutor and freelance writer that is trained in journalistic, technical, and creative copywriting. At LifeSavvy, she researches products, writes about the items, and shares what she's uncovered with readers. Her writing is comprehensive and sometimes a bit silly. Read Full Bio »
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