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How To Choose Aquarium Pump

By John DoeLast update: 2023-08-16

If you are planning to choose an aquarium pump product, consider the size of the pump to buy, especially based on practice when setting up an aquarium with a sump.

If you choose a size that is too large, your tank or tank may overflow. If you purchase a return pump that is too small, it may lack the flow required for the sediment filter, filter socks, air filter, filter media reactor, heater, chiller, and/or equipment. other works normally. To better understand, let's learn the article How to choose an aquarium pump.

1. Calculation of linear drain space

You should first measure all sides of the spill in direct contact with the aquarium water; The original corner overflow will have two sides in direct contact with the aquarium water and back wall overflow will have three sides in direct contact with the aquarium water.

Then add the lateral measurements together to calculate the total linear drain space. According to the formula:

Total linear escape space for 2-sided corner overflow = A B

Total linear drainage space for 3-sided rear overflow

Compare the calculated linear drain space with the required linear drain space required for your drain size in the chart below and ensure the pump meets or exceeds the recommended linear drain size. If the overflow meets or exceeds the minimum linear drain size, your maximum flow rate will be determined based on the size and number of drains as shown in the next section. If the overflow is small, the minimum linear drain size. In addition, you should also provide the velocity you want to the manufacturer.

2. Gallons per hour (GPH)

Usually, water pumps are rated in gallons per hour (GPH). The GPH rating is the maximum flow rate for the pump, the amount of water the pump can move when it's not connected to anything.

It's the industry standard for measuring the capacity of a particular pump, but it doesn't tell the whole story. When connecting the pump to a pipe or PVC pipe, it will generate pressure (upstream pressure) and the flow rate will be reduced. Then you need to take this loss of flow into account when choosing a return pump.

3. Calculation of flow rate

With reef aquariums, as a rule of thumb, a pump can deliver at least 5x to 10 times the total volume of the tank's water per hour. If you have a 50-gallon tank, look for a pump rated at least 250-500 GPH. When the pump is used on a storage tank, the head pressure generated by the water line will slow down the pump and possibly achieve a flow rate somewhere in the 150 - 350 GPH range.

As far as 10x the total tank flow per hour is quite a lot of absolute maximum flow through the tank or proper filtration system, some people who plan to use modern filtration techniques often choose to run a bit slower in the tank. The total tank flows from 2x to 5x per hour after head pressure is applied. This will increase the stay in the sump and run a bit quieter. You follow the information below:

50-gallon tank = Actual flow rate is 100 - 250 GPH

Whether the flow is slow or fast, always use the total volume of the tank to estimate the number of times per hour the return pump can circulate the entire volume of water through the filtration system and know that anywhere from 2x - 10 times the total water volume of the tank per hour.

4. Head pressure

It is important to consider the amount of head pressure caused by the particular plumbing system to accurately assess the pump's capabilities. From there the head pressure can be calculated using standard formulas and the flow control required for the pump. At the same time, reducing the flow with the valve cannot make the pump run faster.

It should be noted that the drain of the sump will have the greatest flow rate as well as the sump which means only the amount of water passing through per hour. Most overflow boxes and some tanks advertise a maximum flow rating which is helpful when deciding on the right drain and tank for the tank. It is very rare for the return flow to exceed the maximum drain/sump flow rate as long as it does not exceed 10 times the hourly turnover but nevertheless.

It is often difficult to pump water to the aquarium. Gravity and friction inside pipes, ducts, and valves reduce flow rates. The higher and farther the pump has to push the water, the harder it is for the pump to move the water and eventually slow down the flow. This resistance is called "head pressure". The higher the lift and the greater the distance, the greater the flow resistance.

If you need a flow rate of 100 GPH and choose a pump that produces a maximum flow rate of 100 GPH. Pipe, elbow, and head pressure will greatly reduce the actual flow rate. Therefore, it is necessary to choose a pump that is more powerful and can provide the required flow after applying head pressure.

To calculate the head pressure, use the following standard formulas to add up the vertical rise, the distance, and the 90° revolution to get the head pressure figure.

* Every 1 ft of vertical height = 1 ft of head pressure

*Every 90° elbow joint = 1 ft of head pressure

*Each elbow joint 45° = 0.5 ft of head pressure

*Every 10ft of flat horizontal distance = 1ft of head pressure

5. Pump sizing

You use the pump manufacturer's flow chart to determine the pump's actual flow rate based on how much head pressure is being generated. Pump manufacturers provide this chart or graph as a starting point in determining return pump size for aquariums.

A pump powerful enough to provide the previously calculated recommended flow rate should be selected, at the given head pressure that the plumbing system produces. If the water rises about 4ft vertically, 4ft horizontally, and then passes through two 90° elbows. That would be about 6.4 ft of head pressure.

Vertical lift 4ft = 4 ft horizontal head pressure 4 ft = 0.4 ft head pressure x2 90° elbow = 2 ft head pressure = 6.4 ft total head pressure.

Then use the flow chart above modeled on the Neptune System COR-15 pump, as it can estimate about 700 GPH of flow at a given 6.4 ft head pressure.

6. Types of the speed of aquarium pump

The AC pump runs at a constant speed and must be decelerated using an in-line valve that has a true union connection between the pump and the reservoir, which allows not only flow control but complete closure. plumbing when you turn it off. pump for maintenance. On the other hand, you can easily remove the pump using a real union connection without having to disassemble all the plumbing.

The DC pump comes with an electronic controller that allows the pump speed and flow rate to be varied, which is also a big benefit when dialing in the overall water flow of the tank. The reason they run quieter and slightly more efficient in terms of power consumption.

7. Design and Setup

The design of the water pump determines the type of setup that will be needed beforehand. The water pump comes with components such as a water filter, water pipes, and power cables. Find out the size of the water pump so you can see if more space is needed in your home for the pump.

The required distance between the water pump and the aquarium so that the necessary plumbing can be arranged and installed.

8. Additional equipment

Fish, whether freshwater or saltwater, are very sensitive living creatures. Any slight change in their water conditions will put them under stress. Stressed fish will not feed normally, and may swim quickly causing injury to themselves or settling to the bottom of the tank, stress will cause color changes and mood swings, reduced immunity levels, and prolonged stress may lead to death.

Therefore, when choosing a water pump, pay attention to the additional equipment of the pump. Also, check that the water pump is capable of handling other essential aquarium systems such as temperature control, UV sterilizers, supplemental lighting, nitrogen separators, and chillers. are not.

9. Types of water pumps

9.1 Submersible water pump

They are placed completely submerged in the aquarium. It works while underwater by pulling water into a pump, through a filter which is then ejected to the surface. It should be noted that to avoid accidents for both aquatic and indoor users, the submersible pump must be completely submerged in water.

The advantage of a submersible pump is that it is quiet, and will pump water through a filtration system without making any noise. Especially, easy to install and no drilling is required.

There included versatile submersible water pumps. Some types can handle both solids and liquids and liquids only have water pumps. The machine does not need much energy to pump water and depends on water pressure.

The advantage of the inline water pump is that it does not change the water temperature of the aquarium. Because it depends on the air for cooling. Thanks to its powerful pumping system, it is ideal for large aquariums as it can pump more gallons of water per hour than a submersible pump.

The machine does not dehydrate the aquarium.. The water is moved in the aquarium to create space for the pump.

Easier to repair and maintain compared to submersible water tanks. It's more pocket-friendly, but the machine is very noisy.


Through the review on how to choose the aquarium pump above, we recommend that you choose a powerful return pump because one pump is too small in size. This reverses the flow rate by employing a valve or controller, but cannot increase the flow rate if the pump is too small. Besides, you can install more reactors and UV sterilizers on the road using the return pump without losing the flow of the display tank.

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