The Best Aquarium Powerheads (Review) in 2021

Last Updated January 7, 2020

An aquarium powerhead is a useful piece of equipment for a range of different aquarium types. While you may have a strong filtration system, your aquarium powerhead does a different job entirely. If this is a new piece of equipment to you, or you are simply looking for a bit of help picking one out, we have compiled a list of 10 great options for you to browse.

The Best Aquarium Powerhead


Energy efficient and compact, this powerful nano pump still has an output of 565 GP, which is a higher flow rate than previous models. You can couple it up with an on-off timer to choose when you have it running. Built in is an anti-vibration system to provide minimum disturbance to your fish.

If you want to adjust the direction of the flow, you can simply use the 360-degree turning ball joint, which makes it easier to pick the right place for installation. You can secure it in place using the magnetic suction cups.

565 GPH output

Usable with on/off timer

360-degree ball joint

Suction cup installation

  • Brand: Hydor
  • Model: P29231
  • Weight: 9.6 ounces


Noise is an issue for many aquarium powerhead buyers, but this one runs both quietly and reliably. You can easily mount it securely in your tank using the triple suction cup. As the intake is fully sealed, it allows for both internal and external usage.

You can fully rotate the powerhead based on your requirements. The six-foot power cord gives you plenty of room to plug it in. And this is an adaptable device that is made to withstand harsher environments and continue working effectively.

Rotational and customizable

Secure mounting system

Quiet operating volume

Durable impeller system

  • Brand: Cobalt Aquatics
  • Model: 30000
  • Weight: 14.4 ounces


Another powerhead from Hydor Koralia, the mount is a particularly celebrated feature as it absorbs vibrations. Using a magnetic suction cup, it allows you to position it as needed. Compared to previous models, it allows for higher flow rates while it still consumes less energy. And the design is compact enough that it won’t take up too much space in your tank.

Suitable for freshwater and marine aquariums

Usable with timers and wavemakers

Mounting system with suction cups

  • Brand: Hydor
  • Model: P29301
  • Weight: 1.2 pounds


When you are getting a product such as this one, safety should be one of your primary concerns. This one is highly waterproof to ensure your safety. As for the speed, it operates at 800 GPH, which you will notice mimics the ocean waves when you get it running, making it perfect for a marine aquarium.

Choose the direction of flow by selecting from 360 degrees of rotation. The suction cups keep it firmly in place inside your tank, while the ball joints are articulated, allowing you to set the direction as you like.

Strong waterproof performance

360-degree rotation

Straightforward to install

  • Brand: SUNSUN
  • Model: JVP-101A
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces


Offering the kind of safe and reliable operation that you would expect, it is also silent, so it is not going to disturb you or your fish! The flow provided is constant, but you can adjust the aeration as required.

There is a custom air valve that works to regulate the air flow. Plus, the filter gets rid of dust, while the intake strainer stops debris from clogging it up. Setup and installation are both straightforward, and you can submerse the powerhead entirely in the tank.

Compact design

Lab tested for reliability

Increase oxidation by altering the positioning

Custom air valve

  • Brand: Marineland
  • Model: PH0550
  • Weight: 12 ounces


One of the most versatile powerheads out there, this one is entirely submersible, so it will still provide all the benefits without being clearly visible. Plus, the size is also compact, so you should be able to find a convenient place for it.

Insulated in epoxy resin, it is highly durable and protected against harsher environments in the water. And since you can adjust the flow so easily, you have plenty of control over the water currents.

Simple installation with suction cups

Extra durable

Versatile unit

Completely submersible

  • Brand: Aqua Clear
  • Model: A565
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds


If you have a 40 to 60-gallon tank, this water pump is ideal as it has a flow rate of 350 GPH. You can use it in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

Debris is kept out of the pump using the airline and strainer – and you can install it simply using the suction cups. While the design is compact, it is also very strong. If you choose, you can add optional accessories to use it as an additional filter.

Simple, compact design

Easy to install with suction cups

Withstands high water pressure

  • Brand: Odyssea
  • Weight: 1 pounds


Boasting being the most adaptable pump on the market, this one has a ‘three pumps in one’ design with a powerhead, utility pump and a new circulation pump option. Marineland is one of the most recognizable brands on the market, trusted by hundreds of customers with aquariums.

‘Three in one’ design

Fully adaptable pump

Combination of high performance and style

  • Brand: Marineland
  • Model: ML90512
  • Weight: 1.15 pounds


If you are looking for a premium product option, this one has a whole host of positive qualities including being versatile, energy efficient, and fully submersible in your aquarium tank. While the motor design is enhanced, the operation is still cool and silent.

Providing a high level of in-tank circulation, it is suitable for both fresh and saltwater aquariums. On top of all this, it is a stylish choice that looks great in a wide range of tank environments.

Highly efficient and reliable

Versatile product

For marine and saltwater environments

Energy saving

  • Brand: Rio
  • Model: Rio plus 1700
  • Weight: 2.7 pounds


The last choice on our list is this one, which you can easily install using the easy-lock suction cup. And if you want to remove it, things are just as easy. Designed in an energy efficient manner, it propels the water while not using as much power. Another ergonomic feature is the cord holding clips on both sides, which ensures that this part of the product will not get in the way.

Easy-lock suction cup holders

Energy efficient motor

Flow rates are lab certified

  • Brand: Aqueon
  • Model: 100106131
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces

Best Aquarium Powerhead Buying Guide

Features to Look for in an Aquarium Powerhead

This list of key features of aquarium powerhead can help you to work out which one fits your needs the most closely:

  • Type of Aquarium

Different aquariums require different powerheads, so if you have a freshwater aquarium or a reef tank, this is going to have an influence on which one is best for your tank.

  • Size of Tank

It is the large tank with many fish that needs a powerhead the most to clear away waste from the entire thing. If you have an extra-large tank of over 100 gallons, more than one powerhead may be needed for the most effective cleaning.

  • Water Flow Rate

An important figure to consider is the water flow rate. You will see this figure in gallons per hour or GPH. The speed of the turnover depends on the contents of your aquarium. If you add more to your aquarium, you will need to adjust the water flow.

  • Noise Level

If your aquarium is already quite noisy with other devices, you may be worried about adding a powerhead too. The noise will be reduced thanks to it being underwater, but the sound level is still a point worth considering.

  • Replaceable Parts

Sometimes, you may need to replace the parts to keep the powerhead running smoothly, so choose one which has the option of obtaining these easily. This is also made more straightforward with a powerhead that can be constructed and deconstructed with relative ease.

Freshwater aquarium with fishes

Why You Should Use Powerheads for Aquarium

A powerhead for your aquarium facilitates good water movement, encouraging a thriving space with coral, plants, good bacteria, fish, and other animal life. While filters can work to purify the water, they don’t help with its circulation. Also, they do not reach the areas in the corners of the tank. A powerhead keeps water flowing throughout the whole tank. However, as it is not a filter, it does not treat the water, but it can be used in conjunction with a filter to clean the whole tank.

  • Better Water Quality

If the water in your aquarium tank gets filtered and circulated more, it improves the quality. Water circulation and oxygenation are both provided in an efficient manner.

  • Keeps Your Tank Clean

When the water is constantly moving, it prevents debris from settling on the bottom. When they are circulated through the tank instead, it allows the filter to draw them in and take them out of the tank environment.

  • Improves the Health of Living Organisms

When the water continuously moves, it helps to bring oxygen to the organisms within the tank, as well as food to living things that remain stationary. Of course, some plant life such as coral does not do well in continually moving water, so you need to put it in the right place in the tank accordingly.

How to Install an Aquarium Wave Maker?

The specific installation method that you use depends on the model, but it should start with a basic safety check when you examine the powerhead, inspecting it for damage. Ensure that you don’t get the power cord wet. Also, you need to keep water from running down and wetting the plug. Never use an extension cord.

As for the actual installation part, you should start by putting the powerhead in the tank, submerging it entirely underwater. Once you are happy, with its position, plug it into the socket. Double check that the water can’t wet the plug and keep ensure that the power cord is not going to trip anyone up. Use clips if they are included with the aquarium wave maker. There is not much more to installation, but the positioning of the powerhead can prove to be the tricky part.

Powerhead Pump Caring and Maintenance

To keep the fish tank powerhead working at its highest level, you need to clean and maintain it properly. If it is not in use, it needs to be safely stored away. When you are ready to clean it, you need to first unplug it and lift it from the tank. Take off the front casing, remove the impeller, and check the components individually. Soak everything in a cleaning solution with caution. If there are a lot of calcareous deposits, you will probably need something acidic like a vinegar cleaning solution. When you are done, you will need to rinse it off thoroughly.

When it is all clean, you can reinstall the device in your tank. Before you turn the power back on, make sure to fix the impeller shaft properly. If you are not planning on using it straight away, put it back in the box and choose a place where it is not likely to get damaged.

Best Aquarium Powerhead Buying Guide & FAQ:

Q: What is a powerhead for a reef tank?

A: A reef tank powerhead is used to circulate the water in your aquarium. Designed with a sealed motor, it is suitable for submerging underwater. It works quite simply. Essentially, it draws water in one side and pushes it out another. The way you position it affects how the current flows in the tank. When the harder-to-reach water moves around more, this loosens the dirt and debris that gets caught around the sides. The constantly moving water also reduces the chances that algae is going to build up.

The other main function of the powerhead is to keep the living things contained within the aquarium healthy. The movement in the water brings along food and oxygen, as well as encouraging them to move around. However, you should remember that not all living things in the tank enjoy a lot of motion.

Q: How does a fish tank powerhead work?

A: A fish tank powerhead is an electrical unit with a sealed motor that allows it to be submerged underwater. In their most basic usage, you can just hang or mount them to the side or back walls of an aquarium. While they are simple devices, the benefits that they have can be extensive.

Q: Where should I place powerhead in the aquarium?

A: The positioning of the aquarium wave maker in your aquarium depends on the plant and marine life in your tank. While some benefit from a strong current, this is not true of all of them. If you have live water plants, they prefer the still environment that they would find at the bottom of an ocean or lake. You may need to position the powerhead to stimulate the surface of the water, leaving the plants underneath relatively still. Saltwater reef tanks can be harder to choose where to put the powerhead as coral has very specific requirements.

You also need to consider the size of the tank. For those less than 20 gallons, a single powerhead can be enough. But if you have a larger tank, you may need more than one pump as the water force will not be enough to reach the whole area. If you are planning to have an oxygenating effect, keep the tank close to the surface, whereas it will need to be much lower if you want a deeper current.

Aquarium with fishes

Our Top Pick

Let’s take another look back at our number one product on the list, which features the twin positive features of being both energy efficient and compact, so it won’t take up too much space and also won’t use a great deal of energy. The design helps to ensure that it won’t disturb your fish thanks to its clever anti-vibration system.

You can adjust the flow by just turning it on the ball joint. You have 360 degrees of directions, so it is highly customizable. To install it in the tank, all you have to do is use the magnetic suction cup after you have chosen your spot.

All of these positive features add up to making it our top choice of best aquarium powerhead.

The Best Aquarium Pumps (Review) in 2021
The Best Aquarium Thermometers (Review) in 2021
The Best Aquarium Water Test Kits (Review) in 2021
The Best Aquarium LED Lighting (Review) in 2021
The Best Aquarium Chillers (Review) in 2021
The Best UV Sterilizer for Aquarium (Review) in 2021