Product Reviews

The Best Aquarium Powerheads: Powerful, Constant Water Flow

Increase the water circulation and oxygenate the aquarium with the best aquarium powerheads.

Best for Saltwater
The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead Option: Fluval Sea CP1 Circulation Pump
Fluval Sea CP1 Circulation Pump
Best Overall
The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead Option: Hydor Koralia
Hydor Koralia
Best For Up to 30 Gallons
The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead Option: Hygger Nano Wave Maker Aquarium Powerhead
Hygger Nano Wave Maker
The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead for Reef Option

Keeping safe and happy fish has always been a priority to fish keepers, and it’s always been the hardest thing to master. There are many ways to go about it and many things to keep in mind as well. Either way, one of the things that play the most significant role in the wellbeing of your fish is the water and its quality.

Just like us, humans, fish need a clean and neat living space in order for them to function normally and not suffer any diseases that derive from unclean or uncirculated water. The best aquarium powerhead sure plays a huge role in that. They’re small devices resembling internal filters in aquariums that generate a flow like a current. 

For freshwater tanks, a single powerhead can be placed on the end of it to resemble a river current. You can use multiple powerheads and position them all around the fish tank for a more turbulent flow. Proper biological filtration, in most cases, cannot be achieved without the water flow produced by these powerheads. 

To produce a correct flow, you need the right powerhead for your tank and the fish and plants that live in it. Keeping that in mind, we compiled a list of valuable products for many case scenarios, depending on what environment you plan to use it in. 

Besides that list, you will find many things in this article that will help you decide on the best aquarium powerhead, broaden your knowledge of water circulation, water quality, and a guide on how to make everything work. By the end of this article, we’re sure you’ll be more than ready to make the best choice for your fish.

  1. Best Overall: Hydor Koralia
  2. Best for Saltwater: Fluval Sea CP1 Circulation Pump
  3. Best For Up to 30 Gallons: Hygger Nano Wave Maker Aquarium Powerhead
  4. Best Quiet: AquaTop PH-35
  5. Best For Planted Tanks: Cobalt Aquatics Pump Nano-Flow
The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead for Reef Option

Benefits of Owning an Aquarium Powerhead

As we mentioned earlier, an aquarium powerhead has many benefits that improve the morale and health of the entire tank. Each of these benefits contributes to a specific area that helps your fish live longer and be comfortable and healthy in their home.

Stimulating the Fish

Even if we take the natural environment into account, we’d realize that fish already live in a place where currents are everywhere and of various kinds, either unsteady or multi-directional where more wind is present and weather conditions are applied, or a more steady flow and one-directional currents in rivers. 

Either way, a moving current has made fish go against that current for either feeding or reproductive reasons. An aquarium powerhead contributes to imitating that flow and boosting their mental and physical health by stimulating this natural environment and giving them the home they’re used to.

Water Flow

Another obvious benefit would be the prevention of stagnation by circulating the water. There are certain pockets of stagnant water in your tank that can’t be reached by your filter, increasing the risk of befalling your fish. These powerheads help increase the turnover rate and, therefore, increase the nitrifying bacteria and reduce the dead sports that the filter installed might miss.

Visuals

One of the reasons that people own domesticated fish, although hopefully not the axis, is the visual enhancements that it does to your house and its overall aesthetic. A water flow contributes to that visual effect by adding some movement to the tank, not only to the water but also to the plants and decorations that react to the flow. That would make your tank look more realistic by getting everything moving just like they’re found in nature.

Makes Things Easier for the Filter

Powerheads move the water around and, when positioned on the bottom of the tank, can also rustle the gravel around, making it easier for the filter to pick it up while it’s floating towards it. This is necessary, especially for people that can’t use other means of getting the gunk out, like with a gravel vacuum.

The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead for Saltwater Option

What to Look for When Buying The Best Aquarium Powerhead

You need to consider some factors whenever you purchase a new product for your aquarium, for the lack of quality or a wrong decision might turn into a nightmare for your fish and compromise the well-being of the aquatic life. These factors vary from tank to tank. However, there are general tips that are valuable for either option.

Power

This one is a delicate thing to keep in mind, meaning that you need just the right amount of power for everything to go smoothly. Too little power will practically do nothing and just put your purchase to waste, while too much power will disrupt the tank and its habits, stress out your fish and just make a mess overall.

There’s not an exact number per liter, but the general rule of thumb suggests that the power should be the size of the tank x10. For a 5-gallon fish tank, you will need an aquarium powerhead with 50 GPH power.

Type

There’s a certain powerhead for each type of tank, saltwater reef, and freshwater, and each powerhead has a slightly different function for each tank. We made sure to include on the list below all different types of powerheads. The most common type of aquarium powerheads are:

  • Jet stream powerheads are old but they will prejudice a very straight flow of water movement. These types of powerheads cost less than others.
  • Propeller powerheads are the types of powerheads that you will get across when shopping for an aquarium powerhead. Propeller powerheads are energy efficient and create the most natural water flow.
  • Crossflow powerheads: creates multiply creates multiple streams and patterns. Its hard to find these types of powerheads as they are new into the market. 
The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead for Planted Option

Price

When we created our list, we made sure to include different price ranges, trying to make it inclusive for all people and budgets. However, one of the leading quality indicators is price, and don’t expect to find the best product for your fish at the lowest possible price. 

There are compromises to be made for low-budget powerheads, and if you’re tight on a budget, it would be best to lower expenses on another part of the tank rather than this one. You can’t expect an excellent product to be made with cheap materials that require little work behind them.

Good and quality items take time and expenses to be made to contribute to an overall quality item.

Our Top Picks

When looking for aquarium circulating pumps in the market on the search for the best one we found several powerheads of different categories varying from the best powerhead for nano reef, to simply a nano powerhead to submersible aquarium pumps, all these in function to a well-built aquarium powerhead setup. 

A good powerhead not only does the job and tank it’s intended for but also can be used for other tanks as well. For example, a saltwater powerhead can also be used as a powerhead for a freshwater aquarium. 

We made sure to include all types of powerheads below and even included some 2 in 1s for a matter of practicality. We assure you that the list below will cater to the many needs of you and your tank.

Best Overall
The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead Option: Hydor Koralia
Photo: Amazon.com

The Hydor Koralia Evolution Aquarium Circulation Pump is objectively the best overall aquarium powerhead. This incredible powerhead is new and improved over previous models, with a better mounting scenario that absorbs vibrations and employs magnetic suction for simple, free installation anywhere in the fish tank. 

This aquarium powerhead has the added benefit of being safe to use with wave-timers and providing high flow rates. The Hydor powerhead is a strong powerhead that is available in four different sizes to meet your tank’s demands. It’s such a flexible model that almost everyone can utilize it in their setup as long as it’s the right size for their tank.

This model is also low-cost, high-quality equipment, simple to use and set up making it accessible to a wide variety of people and helpful in many scenarios. In every situation, this is the product that prevails over others that serves your tank regardless of its demands.

Pros

  • Available in different sizes and power
  • Compact size 
  • Cord protector included
  • Smart wave compatible
  • Energy efficient 
  •  Magnet attachment system

Cons

  • Concentrated flow where the pump is directed

Best for Saltwater
The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead Option: Fluval Sea CP1 Circulation Pump
Photo: Amazon.com

The Fluval Sea Circulation Aquarium Powerhead is meant to mimic the natural flow of water seen in ocean reefs. If you have a saltwater tank, you’ll like this Fluval powerhead for various reasons, including its compact size, power efficiency, ease of maintenance, and pre-set design for use with a timer, as we do.

Also, if you have corals or plants in your tank, this makes for an ideal design that will prove to work great. It has an ingenious and space-saving design that helps to keep encroachment into the aquarium to a minimum. It also ensures that it does not consume too much power by increasing energy efficiency. 

The powerhead is also equipped with a safe and adaptable mounting mechanism that makes it simple to install in any aquarium. The flow direction on the powerhead may be simply altered to meet the demands of your fish and plants. This model’s flow is smooth, which results in a mild indirect current being disseminated across a large region.

Pros

  • Very quiet
  • Energy-efficient
  • Adjustable 270-degree directional
  • Easy to install and space-saving

Cons

  • Only suitable for saltwater and reef tanks

Best For Up to 30 Gallons
The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead Option: Hygger Nano Wave Maker Aquarium Powerhead
Photo: Amazon.com

Hygger is one of the most well-known aquarium equipment brands in the world. Their submersible aquarium pumps and this aquarium powerhead and wavemaker combination help to explain why. It’s extremely high-quality, with several useful functions and features, including a dual-head for ultra-powerful flow and directionality. 

For your freshwater aquarium, the Hygger Wavemaker with Powerhead is a wonderful two-in-one solution, ideal for aquariums with a capacity of 3 to 35 gallons rather they be freshwater or saltwater. It is straightforward to install by just connecting the magnetic back to the tank’s side. The powerhead may be set up in four distinct wave types, four different power levels, and eight different wave speeds via the control panel. 

It may also be set to activate at five different times throughout the day. Because of the 360-degree design, the influence of this aquarium powerhead will be felt across the whole tank. And, thanks to its ultra-quiet and energy-efficient motor, you can be confident that it will not consume excessive energy or cause any acoustic pollution.

Pros

  • 4 Levels of power intensity
  • Strong magnet for easy installation
  • Quiet operation and stable position
  • Smart LED display controller

Cons

  • Constantly needs cleaning

Best Quietest
The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead Option:  AquaTop PH-35
Photo: Amazon.com

This powerhead, like other AquaTop products, is dependable and well-known in the industry. It’s made of high-impact ABS and comes with a 90-day guarantee. It’s compatible with most sponge filters

The AquaTop Maxflow submersible powerhead may be used in both freshwater and saltwater conditions, making it a valuable addition to any tank. This device comes in various sizes and cycle rates ranging from 211 to 608 GPH, and it attaches to the side of the tank with two incorporated suction cups. It comes with an optional air input and air regulator, allowing you to select whether or not to aerate the water.

Pros

  • Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater use
  • Ideal design for tanks with undergravel filters
  • Powerful (422 GPH)

Cons

  • A little strong for small tanks

Best For Planted Tanks
The Best Best Aquarium Powerhead Option: Cobalt Aquatics Pump Nano-Flow
Photo: Amazon.com

This excellent multi-use powerhead from Cobalt Aquatics is submersible and can withstand even the most challenging circumstances. It features a completely rotating output to ensure that the current flow is in the desired direction.

It’s ideal for nano reef aquariums and planted aquariums, and it works in both saltwater and freshwater. It generates the necessary current to remove dead areas and circulate vital oxygen and nutrients. The Cobalt Aquatics Nano-Flow Aquarium Powerhead has a flow rate of 686 GPH and uses just 4 watts of electricity. The powerful magnetic mount, which is appropriate for tanks up to 3/4′′ thick, makes installation a breeze. 

It has a robust, wide-angle ball joint that allows you to direct the flow exactly where you want it. This powerhead minimizes the noise, so your fish don’t get disturbed by featuring a universal intake tube and an adjustable venturi with a silencer. Finally, it comes with a three-year warranty and is also really quiet.

Pros

  • Super sturdy magnetic mount
  • Ideal design for tanks with undergravel filters
  • Powerful (686 GPH)
  • Well-build

Cons

  • A alittle noisy

Our Verdict

All of the items listed above are fantastic possibilities, and your ultimate pick will be dependent on your tank and the power it needs for everything to go well. Although a powerhead isn’t what you first think of when you first consider raising fish, it is one of the most critical aquarium equipment. 

Although aquarium powerheads can be bought almost anywhere, you’ll need specific knowledge to select one that will function and not frustrate your fish when working. Anyway, whatever you’re searching for, even if it’s just a simple powerhead that you just want to work well and for a long time, you can’t go wrong with either of the products recommended.

How We Choose The Best Aquarium Powerhead

A powerhead is an essential part of a setup, especially for bigger tanks. It’s important to make the right choice while considering all the factors that play a role in choosing the best aquarium powerhead. 

We worked tirelessly to find the best aquarium powerheads on the market and bring you a list of the ones that we thought would make your tank work better and make everything easier for you and your fish. We went through all the factors and risks, and we’re confident we compiled the ultimate list for the best products out there.

FAQs About Aquarium Powerhead

Below you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve come across for aquarium powerheads, and we hope they’ll give you the missing piece for any questions you might have left.

Q: How To Install an Aquarium Powerhead?

A: The best thing to do about this is to install it by following the guide provided by the manufacturer. Besides that, there are a couple of tips to keep in mind regardless of the powerhead you’re going to install.

Before you do anything, you should check the powerhead for any problems or damages so you can return it right away before usage. Most damages happen while shipping, and Amazon’s return policy will be a lifesaver. 

Afterward, when you’re sure the item is correct, be mindful of whether the water will splash on plug sockets or mains. Besides the cables, powerheads are waterproof, for they’re made to be submerged, meaning you can put them wherever you feel like in the tank.

Stick it to the side and just plug it in and you’re set. Everything is straightforward, and if there are any special instructions, the manual will for sure include them.

Q: How Does a Fish Tank Powerhead Work?

A: Water is forced out of the outflow vent after it’s drawn through the inflow side of the powerhead. Most powerheads allow you to pick where the flow should travel for optimum impact by rotating the vent to vary the direction of the outflow.

The water then passes through the filter and goes through the various cleaning phases due to the flow generated by the powerhead, which circulates all of the water in an aquarium. As mentioned earlier, by the lack of a powerhead, the water can become stagnant if it is allowed to rest.

Q: What Is the Difference between a Powerhead and a Wavemaker?

A: They’re both similar and essential for your tank. While a powerhead flows in one direction, a wavemaker generates a forward motion, then reverses the water.

They both have different functions though and serve different purposes. If the powerhead just moves parts of water around and assists the filter, the wavemaker moves the whole water back and forth. Hygger Nano Wave Maker Aquarium Powerhead is one of the best aquarium powerheads that workes also as a wavemaker.

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I am Mario, a expert aquarist who is sharing his knowledge with everyone.

Keeping innocent fish and aquatic plants safe and healthy is my daily routine. With my experience and my passion for aquatic life, I will advise you through the long run of keeping an aquarium.

Disclosure: EpicAquarium.com participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.