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Best pond pumps: reviews and top picks

Best Pond Pumps

Jump to: What is a pond pump? | Features | Reviews

I have to admit, I’m easily befuddled when it comes to pond accessories. Especially when there’s plumbing involved!

Getting my head around how pond heaters work was bad enough, let alone pumps! But after hours of research and lots of testing, I think I’ve more or less overcome my confusion.

In this article I’m going to look at some of the best models on the market, along with offering some general buying advice. Let’s dive in.

The short version: best pond pumps

Click here to jump to our in-depth reviews of the best pond pumps.

Pond PumpPriceRating
PonicsPump Submersible Pump $$10/10
AlpineCyclone Pump $$$10/10
Active Aqua Submersible Pump $$8/10
TetraPond Debris-Handling Pump $$$9/10
Jebao Pump $$9/10

What is a pond pump?

Pond pumps are electrical devices that circulate and oxygenate pond water. They may be used in conjunction with a biofilter, in which case water is drawn into the pump, pushed through the filter, and then back out again into the pond. Alternatively, and particularly when there are no fish, a pump may be used on its own to power a water feature.

Pond Pump

The PonicsPump is a typical pond pump.

A pond pump is usually made up of three main parts: an impeller, the intake pipe, and the outlet pile. The impeller is responsible for drawing the water through the inlet and debris filter and back out again into the pond through the outlet. Because the outlet pipe will usually extend above the surface, such as in the case of a fountain, the water will also be oxygenated.

Your minimum hourly flow rate should be half of your pond’s volume. So, for instance, if you have a 500 gallon pond, your pump should he able to handle at least 250 gallons per hour. If using a pump with with a biofilter you will also need to consider the stipulations of your individual model. Use this guide for calculating your ideal pump capacity based on your pond’s size, the vertical distance the water will be raised and any other friction points in the system.

Are pond pumps necessary?

Pond pumps are meant to mirror conditions in nature. Most water environments, particularly those in which fish live, are fed by streams or rivers. This supply of fresh water prevents stagnation and the buildup of noxious chemicals and potentially detrimental organisms like algae. Moving water will also lead to a degree of natural oxygenation.

Pond Pump

The “Alpine Cyclone” is a higher-power pump.

Because the water in artificial ponds would otherwise remain stagnant, some kind of human intervention is needed. Estimates vary, but it’s generally accepted that pond water needs to be circulated at least once every two to three hours. Alongside this, man-made conditions foster an environment in which bacteria can flourish. To counter this, a biofilter is often used along with a pump.

There is a degree of debate around whether or not it’s possible to build a completely natural pond, without the need for pumps and filters. Whilst I do agree with a lot of the points often raised, the effort and understanding required to build a self-sustaining ecosystem far outweighs the ease with which you can install a pump. In my opinion, at least.

Things to consider when buying a pond pump

  • Use – Do you just want to filter your water or do you want to power a fountain or waterfall? If you’re using your pump to power a waterfall or fountain then you will need to factor in the extra effort required to raise the water. Pumping water to a certain height will reduce the gallons/per hour capacity of your pump.
  • Submersible or non-submersible – You have a choice between two basic types of pumps: submersible and non-submersible. Submersible pumps are placed under the water and are generally quieter and easier to set up. Non-submersible pumps tend to be longer-lasting, more powerful (or at least capable of being more powerful) and more energy-efficient. They require a little bit more plumbing know-how but are the best option for bigger ponds.
  • Filter – The purpose of a filter attached to the pump is to prevent the buildup of debris in the internal pipes and impeller shaft. Additional filters built into the pond’s pump system are usually designed to remove bacteria from pond-water. Make sure that any pump you buy has a robust debris filter built in.

Best pond pumps: our top ticks for 2017

***Full Disclosure – Where appropriate, I’ve linked product images to commercial sites and Amazon (see Amazon Disclosure). If you buy from these sites, I earn a small affiliate fee, which helps me keep Urban Turnip going.***

1. PonicsPump Submersible Pump

If you’re after a high-quality, long-lasting pump for use with a filter or water fountain then you can’t go wrong with this offering from PonicsPump. It comes in a few different power grades – from 400 GPH to 530 GPH – with two different lengths of cord – 6 in. and 16in. – for each. You can adjust the power based on your needs (there’s a control panel at the back) so my advice is to go with the long-cord higher-power unit. It comes with three outlet adaptors.

There are also a few other standout features that contribute to its durability. The impeller is ceramic (not steel) and so not prone to corroding and the vinyl casing is very thick and well-seamed. It’s oil free, so there’s no risk of leakage and it includes a one year warranty.

2. Alpine Cyclone Pump

If you need a pump with lots of power then I can’t sing the praises of this Alpine model enough. It’s good for pumping up to 5200 gallons of water per hour and has all the features that you would expect in a high-end unit. It’s submersible, has a ceramic impeller, is magnet-driven and comes with a three year warranty.

Importantly for a model of this capacity it is built with a filter that is removable without the use of tools. It’s incredibly easy to install and very long-lasting. There are some complaints about it not living up to its promise of 5200 GPH, but these negative opinions are very much in the minority. For larger ponds, you shouldn’t have an issue.

3. Active Aqua Pump 

Active Aqua Submersible Water Pump, 1000 GPH

This pump can be submersed under water or used in-line (it has both inlet and outlet pipes). There are a few different models in the range with different power capacities – from 40GPH to 1000GPH. It’s oil-free and comes with a one year warranty.

One of the key features is the two-layered debris filter. If you’re concerned about getting bits of pond stuck in your pipes (who wouldn’t), then this is the one to go with. Another interesting point about the Active Aqua is that it comes in lower-power models (40GPH) so is good if you have a barrel pond or something like that. The outlet fitting isn’t a standard size (it’s 5/8 in.) which is fine for use with a hose with the adaptor but unsuitable for PVC piping.

4. TetraPond “Debris-Handling” Pump

There are two ways of dealing with pond debris. The first is to utilize a filter to stop it from getting into the piping and pump shaft in the first place. The second is to design a pump that allows it to pass through. This model from TetraPond takes the second approach.

It’s a powerful pump – shifting 3000 GPH or 4000 GPH depending on which unit you buy – and the outer filter stops larger debris and fish from getting stuck. It comes with a 15 ft. cord (which is pretty long compared to a lot of other models of a similar capacity).

It works well with pressure filters (for reducing flow speed) and biofilters if you want to use them.

5. Jebao Magnetic Water Pump

For the final entry, I’ve chosen the Jebao Magnetic Water Pump. There are three different units available – 2,100 GPH, 3,100 GPH and 11,800 GPH (which is made in a slightly different design) – and has a large debris filter. There are a lot of very similar models but the one from Jebao was the cheapest that I came across.

It’s submersible, so can’t be used as an inlet pump, but it comes with a 30 ft. cord (the longest I’ve seen) and with three adaptor sizes in a very clever tiered design (as you can see from the picture). This is great if you want a mid-range capacity model – not just a couple of hundred GPH but not 1000s either.

6. Bonus: Champion Power Pump

I usually keep these lists down to five products, but I thought I’d include a gas-powered pump too. If you really want some oomph that’s going to last for years, then this is the one for you. Pumps like this are for short-term use (it would cost a fortune to run continuously) but are ideal if you need something draining.

Let us know your thoughts! Leave a comment below!

What are your thoughts? Have you tried any of the pumps on this list? Do you have your own recommendations? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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