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11 Best Aquarium Powerheads

11 Best Aquarium Powerheads

11 Best Aquarium Powerheads

No matter if you have a freshwater, saltwater, or coral reef aquarium, making sure your tank is properly aerated and circulated is a crucial cog in making sure your fish and plant life thrive.

Whilst getting the right filtration system in place is a major component in getting your aquarium looking its best, and getting good quality filter media is important in keeping your water crystal clear, if you don’t have good water circulation and aeration then your hard work will be for nothing.

By reading this list of the 11 best aquarium powerheads you can purchase the one most suited for your aquarium and make it the perfect environment for your fish to thrive.

What is an Aquarium Powerhead?

Basically an aquarium powerhead is a tool which you can use to get maximal water circulation in your tank. Good water circulation is vital in getting the most out of your aquarium and maintaining good water quality. Aquarium wave makers are also very similar in this regard.

Proper water circulation will get the most out of your filtration system, as all the water will go through the filter and be treated. If you don’t have proper circulation pockets of still water form where water won’t get drawn through the filter, while other parts will get drawn through multiple times.

If you have an aquarium heater in your tank, proper circulation will maintain a constant temperature across the whole tank. A badly circulated heated aquarium will have some hot spots and cold spots.

An aquarium powerhead works to keep the water circulating effectively in the aquarium, so you can ensure the whole aquarium benefits from the filter and heater, or whatever else you have installed in the tank. This means your aquarium fish have constant environmental conditions in which to live.

Be sure to understand that a powerhead isn’t a filter and won’t clean or treat the water, it simply works in tandem with your filter to maintain clean water.

11 Best Aquarium Powerhead Reviews – 2020 Guide

1. MarineLand Penguin Submersible Aquarium PowerHead 

MarineLand Penguin Submersible Aquarium PowerHead Silent, safe, and reliable, the MaineLand Penguin Aquarium Powerhead is a great way to start off this list. Installation is very straightforward and easy so you shouldn’t have any problems in getting it up and running. It suits both freshwater and marine aquariums so you can be sure it will suit your tank. 

In freshwater aquariums, the fully adjustable aeration maximizes oxygenation of the water, as you can make sure the flow reaches even the corners of the tank, and you can be away with independent air stones and pumps. For marine aquariums the flexible mounting options and the fact the outlet is fully adjustable means to get maximum say in where the water flow is, so you can ensure your reef gets the right flow.

It delivers maximum aeration via a constant powerful water flow. Included in the package are a flow diffuser for directed water flow and an adjustable aeration valve. There are three different sizes available so you can purchase the one most suitable for your aquarium.

2. Odyssea EX Submersible Aquarium Powerhead 

Odyssea EX Submersible Aquarium Powerhead The Odyssea EX aquarium powerhead comes in two different sizes, one of 250 GPH for a 40 gallon or up tank, and one of 350 GPH for a 60 gallon and up tank. The reviews say that it is a very powerful pump, so be wary if you have a smaller tank! 

Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums, this powerhead is very easy to set up and install, with suction cups to attach it to the side of your tank. 

The output flow is easily controlled by adjusting the direction of the spout. The spout easily snaps into place and is very strong, so won’t detach in high water flow and pressure.

It comes with an airline and strainer which helps keep debris from the pump so you get 24/7 functionality. You also get the option of turning this model into a filter if you purchase a filter cone.

3. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Powerhead Circulation Pump

The Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Powerhead is more high-tech than others on this list. That’s why it is a little bit more expensive than some models, but you do get a very high quality product.

Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Powerhead Circulation PumpIt’s compact, but packets a punch at 565 GPH. You can also get the 240 or 425 GPH versions if you require something less powerful. It is very energy efficient so won’t run up a big electricity bill, and can be used in any freshwater or saltwater aquarium.

The direction of the flow can be adjusted very easily, as the ball joint allows for 360 degree rotation. The flow is designed to mimic the natural water motion found in nature.

Installation is very simple and easy. This aquarium powerhead has unique magnetic suction cups to attach it very securely to the side of the tank.

A built-in anti vibration system allows your fish to remain undisturbed by the powerhead as it circulates the water in your tank. This also reduces the noise created to make it more peaceful for you to enjoy your tank.

4. SunSun JVP Series Powerhead Pump

The SunSun JVP Series Aquarium Powerhead is another great option. It is on the cheaper side so won’t break the bank, and if you require more than one you can buy them in packs of two or four to get an even better deal.

SunSun JVP Series Powerhead PumpJust because they are a good deal doesn’t mean they are less effective. At 800 GPH this is a very powerful model, and the 360 degree rotation allows you to fully adjust the flow direction. Suction cups with articulating ball joints further advance this.

Installation is incredibly easy, simply stick it on the side of your aquarium using the strong and durable suction cups, and plug it into the mains. It has a very low energy consumption so you don’t need to worry about it sucking too much power. 

Designed to emulate the effects of natural waves in nature, this aquarium powerhead will improve water circulation and eliminate those dead spots, and get your tank thriving.

5. Hygger Nano Wave Maker Aquarium Powerhead

Hygger Nano Wave Maker Aquarium PowerheadThe Hygger Nano Wave Maker Aquarium Powerhead is designed for smaller freshwater or saltwater aquariums of between 3 and 25 gallons.

It is very easily installed by attaching the magnetic back to the side of the tank. There is a control panel which is used to set up the powerhead in four different wave modes, 4 different power watts and 8 wave speeds. It can also be programmed to be active at 5 times of the day.

The 360 degree degree design means that the whole tank will feel the effect of this aquarium powerhead. And with an ultra quiet and energy saving motor you can rest easy it won’t disturb you or take up too much power.

6. AquaClear 50 Aquarium Powerhead

AquaClear 50 Aquarium PowerheadInsulated in epoxy resin, the AquaClear 50 Aquarium Powerhead is extra durable and means that the company is happy to cover it with a two year warranty. 

It is usable in all freshwater and saltwater tanks, and is very versatile and can be used to drive a number of accessories such as under gravel filters, protein skimmers, and spray bars. It is almost silent when operational.

It can be used to raise oxygen levels as it aerates the water and circulates it to all corners of the tank. It is very compact and completely submersible so you can hide it behind plants or whatever you have in the tank so it isn’t an eyesore. 

It is very simple to instal and set up; simply attach it to the side of the aquarium using the suction cups. The flow rate is 270 GPH, and is adjustable which is a great feature you don’t see on many aquarium powerheads.

7. AquaTop MaxFlow Aquarium PowerHead

AquaTop MaxFlow Aquarium PowerHeadAquatop’s MaxFlow Aquarium Powerhead model is very easy to install and run, and can be easily fitted to powering under gravel filtration systems. It has a flow rate of 211 GPH, but there are options to choose the 343, 465, or 608 GPH models if those would fit your tank better.

Perfect for any freshwater or saltwater aquarium, this powerhead runs efficiently and quietly, so won’t disturb you in the home. It provides superior water movement, so will prevent stagnant water conditions and prevent dead spots forming. 

There is an optional air intake feature which allows for increased water aeration. This increases the oxygen concentration of the water and allows both fish and plant life to thrive.

8. Aquaneat Aquarium Powerhead

Aquaneat Aquarium PowerheadThe Aquaneat Aquarium Powerhead comes in three power options; 60, 130, and 210 gallons per hour, which are suitable for 5, 20, and 30 gallon tanks respectively. There is a strainer over the intake valve which prevents debris from entering and damaging the pump.

It is suitable for use in all freshwater and saltwater aquariums, and can be mounted using the supplied suction cups wherever in the tank you like either vertically or horizontally. It just needs to be completely submerged in water to be functional. 

The price is what makes this powerhead so competitive. It works to create an aerated, healthy and well oxygenated environment for your fish and aquatic life.

9. Fluval Hagen Sea Circulation Aquarium Powerhead

Fluval’s Hagen Sea Circulation Aquarium Powerhead is designed to recreate the flow of water found naturally in ocean reefs. This makes it a perfect design if you have coral in your tank.

Fluval Hagen Sea Circulation Aquarium PowerheadIt possesses an innovative and  space saving design as well to minimize intrusion into the aquarium itself. It also improves energy efficiency so it doesn’t suck the power. The flow created by this model is very smooth and is broadcast over a wide area, which creates a gentle indirect current.

This greatly aids corals as they don’t like harsh direct currents, yet do need a flow of water to bring food, nutrients, and oxygen.

It has a secure and flexible mounting which is very easy to install, and it is safe and ready to use with any timer system. You can choose between the 265, 425, 740, and the 1375 GPH models, which are suitable for 15, 25, 50, and 90 gallon tanks respectively.

10. Cobalt Aquatics Nano-Flow Aquarium Powerhead

Cobalt Aquatics Nano-Flow Aquarium PowerheadCobalt Aquatics Nano-Flow Aquarium Powerhead has a flow rate of 686 GPH which has a power consumption of only 4 watts. Installation is very easy using the strong magnetic mount which is suitable for up to 3/4″ thick tanks. It features a very tough and wide angle ball joint so you have full control over where the flow is directed.

It is perfect for smaller reef and planted aquariums and can be used in any saltwater or freshwater tank. It creates the current needed to eliminate dead spots and circulate much needed oxygen and nutrients.

There is a three year warranty with this powerhead which tells the story of how well built and sturdy the unit is. It is also very quiet when operational.

11. Marineland Maxi-Jet Pro Aquarium Powerhead

Marineland Maxi-Jet Pro Aquarium PowerheadThe Marineland Maxi-Jet Pro Aquarium Powerhead is three pumps rolled into one; it is a utility pump, a powerhead, and a circulation pump. You receive an in-box conversion kit which allows you to change the powerhead into a prop style circulation pump which generates excellent water motion and flow in the tank.

You can run any under-gravel filter using this model, as well as wavemaker timers. And with the circulation pump option you can be sure that your tank will be well oxygenated and you will eliminate any dead spots.

There are four options available so you can get the correct power option for the size of your tank. There is a 500 GPH, 750 GPH, 1000 GPH, and a 1300 GPH option.

What Factors Should You Consider When Buying an Aquarium Powerhead?

There are a good few things to keep in mind while shopping around for an aquarium powerhead. 

First things first, some terminology. You will see the term flow rate used a lot, which tells you how powerful the aquarium powerhead is. The flow rate is measured in gallons per hour, or GPH. This is the volume of water the powerhead moves in an hour. The higher the flow rate, the stronger the powerhead.

The size of your aquarium will affect which powerhead you should buy. There are many different powerheads available which offer different flow rates. A large aquarium will need a strong powerhead, with a high flow rate, and very large tanks of 100 gallons or more may even need more than one so you get water circulation in every corner.

Smaller aquariums, conversely, will need a weaker powerhead. A strong powerhead in a small aquarium may disrupt your fish.

The type of tank you have will affect which aquarium powerhead you purchase. A planted tank or a reef tank will require a different powerhead than a basic freshwater tank, as you don’t want to disrupt the coral or plants.

You should also note what the noise level of the powerhead is. It isn’t a massive issue, but a noisy aquarium powerhead will get very annoying after a while!

How Does an Aquarium Powerhead Work?

The function of an aquarium powerhead is to circulate the water throughout the tank and prevent dead spots. The motors are therefore sealed to allow them to be fully submerged in water.

A powerhead draws water through the inflow side and forces it out of the outflow vent. With most powerheads you can change the direction of the outflow by rotating the vent, so you can choose where the flow should go to have the maximum effect.

The water flow created by the powerhead gets all the water in an aquarium circulating so that it all ends up going through the filter and going through the different stages of getting cleaned. If the water is allowed to still and form dead spots it can cause the water to stagnate.

As said previously, f you have an aquarium heater, the increased water circulation from an aquarium powerhead will keep the water temperature consistent throughout your tank. And your fish, plant, and coral life will be kept healthier as they are brought a greater supply of oxygen.

How Do You Install Your Best Aquarium Powerhead?

You should always check the manufacturers instructions and follow their advice, but there are a number of universal basic rules to follow.

Before you dive straight into the setup, first check the powerhead for any damage or cracks. You never know what can happen in transit, and it is easy to replace things on Amazon if you haven’t used it first!

Ensure that water from your aquarium isn’t going to splash the plug socket, and no water can run down the cord to the mains. Also always plug it in directly to the mains, don’t use an extension cable.

Aquarium powerheads are designed to be submerged, and are totally waterproof, so feel free to place it where you like in the tank. Use the suction cups, or whatever the model uses, to place the powerhead on the side of the aquarium. Then plug in and go!

Installation is very easy, there are only a couple of steps. But getting the placement right can be more tricky!

Where Should You Place An Aquarium Powerhead?

Proper placement of an aquarium powerhead can be a little fiddly, but don’t worry, it isn’t too bad.

Some organisms in your aquarium may thrive in a strong current, while others won’t. Therefore it is important to place the powerhead in a way which will benefit your aquarium and not cause damage.

You should aim to recreate the natural conditions found in the wild in your aquarium. So if you have live plants growing in your tank, try to create a lake or ocean environment. 

best aquarium powerhead

You can also utilize the aquarium powerhead to aerate the water and circulate oxygen to the plants at the bottom of your tank. Do this by placing the powerhead at the surface so it agitates the water.

Coral is a bit more tricky, as it requires closer attention than plants. So if you have a saltwater reef tank, make sure you do your homework on what type of corals you have growing, and how much water flow and oxygen they can handle. You don’t want to do more harm than good when introducing an aquarium powerhead.

The size of your aquarium comes into play too. If you have a small aquarium then one powerhead will normally be able to circulate all the water, so you can aim the outflow until it suits your needs. With large aquariums however you may need multiple powerheads as you may still get uncirculated water with only one. So check and see if you need two or more working in conjunction to maximize circulation.

Conclusion and Our Recommendation

Hopefully this review and guide of the 7 best aquarium powerheads has given you more information to be able to purchase the best aquarium powerhead for your tank.

An aquarium powerhead is a very good way to aerate the water and increase the oxygen levels in your tank. They will also circulate the water and prevent dead spots occurring. However this is only worthwhile if you have a good filter and the correct filter media. With good circulation and a good filter you won’t get any stagnation of your water.

Depending on your tank you may want a different aquarium powerhead. If you have a reef tank you may be best served with the Hygger Nano Wave Maker Aquarium Powerhead, as it is designed for small reef tanks. 

Hygger Nano Wave Maker Aquarium Powerhead

It is small and compact and can easily be placed anywhere within the tank using magnetic suction cups for best effect. The flow can easily be adjusted using the 360 degree outflow nozzle which is sat in a ball joint. 

It is very quiet whilst running, and so won’t disrupt you or your fish.

The SunSun JVP Series Aquarium Powerhead is also a very good option. It is cheap and cheerful, so won’t break the bank, but you don’t skimp on quality for the price. 

If you have a larger tank which will need more than one powerhead you can purchase these in packets of two or four as well which is very handy. They are very powerful too, and have a fully 360 degree rotatable outflow so you can best arrange the water flow.

About the author

Authority Aquarium Staff

Authority Aquarium Staff writers are experts and aquarium enthusiasts, our in-house marine biologist fact checks all our content and reviews to bring you the best advice for your aquarium health.

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