Best Aquarium Water Pumps in 2021: Reviews with Comparisons

Best Aquarium Water Pumps in 2021: Reviews with Comparisons

A well-kept aquarium is both beautiful and tranquil. It can provide a focal point for a room and offers parents a way to teach children about nature and caring for pets. However, every aquarium requires specific equipment if the fish and aquatic plants are to survive and thrive. No aquarium can do without a water pump; this simple and relatively inexpensive device provides agitation to increase the water surface. This allows more oxygen to dissolve in the water and releases carbon dioxide from the water. There is a vast array of aquarium pumps on the market for various applications and at reasonable prices. However, choosing the right one for your aquarium can get confusing. We will discuss the five best aquarium water pumps across various sizes and price ranges.

Best Aquarium Water Pumps: Reviews

Pawfly MA-60 10 Gallon Aquarium Water Pump

The Pawfly water pump is a complete pump system and includes the air stone, check valve, and a five-foot airline. This compact water pump will suit both freshwater and marine aquariums of up to ten gallons. It has a flow rate of around 24 gallons per hour.

The pump runs quietly, never exceeding 40 dB because it is equipped with four rubber pads to reduce resonance. It also has a check valve to ensure that the water doesn’t siphon back into the pump in the event of a power failure.

The pump fits into a regular two-prong wall fitting and has a generous four-foot mains cable.

This aquarium pump is energy efficient and so compact it will fit into the palm of your hand, making it very discreet.

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Uniclife Aquarium 20 to 100 Gallon pump

Suitable for marine and freshwater aquariums, the Uniclife Aquarium 4-watt pump runs at a flow rate of four liters per minute. At its lowest flow rate, this 20-watt pump is ultra-quiet, measuring 25 dB. At maximum flow, the pump runs at 40 dB.

It is compact and lightweight and rated for tanks of up to 100 gallons. The pump also has an adjustment valve, so you can use it to aerate an aquarium as small as 10 gallons.

Use the rotating dial to increase or reduce the flow of water through the dual output valves. The pump comes with a T connector to connect the twin ports to create a single flow of water. The mains cable is six feet long.

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KEDSUM 320GPH Submersible Water Pump

The KEDSUM submersible pump is suitable for small to medium-sized aquariums, water features, and ponds. You can also use it like a fountain. It is small and easy to hide. With a flow rate of 320 gallons per hour, the KEDSUM 320 has a maximum lift height of four feet. At 20 watts, this is an energy-efficient unit.

It has a three-pronged plug on a 6.5-foot mains cable. The pump is equipped with two different outlet adaptors, so you get to choose what flow you want. Then, attach the pump to the aquarium by the glass suction cups.

Pump parts are easy to dismantle and reassemble for cleaning as all parts clip into place. It has no seals or messy oil as it is water-cooled.

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KEDSUM 880GPH Submersible Pump (3500L/H, 100W)

This powerful pump is designed for large freshwater or marine aquaria, outdoor ponds, or hydroponics. It also makes a great water fountain. This is a submersible unit, so it has no seals or oil to worry about.

At max, the flow rate is a powerful 880 gallons per hour. An adjustment valve allows for flow rate control. It has a lift height of 6.5-feet.

The pump has three outlet valves of different sizes, allowing you to choose your flow. Mount the KEDSUM 880GPH vertically or horizontally using the suction cups for glass mounting. The pump has a generous 5.9-foot mains cable.

The pump has an aluminum oxide ceramic impeller shaft. This material is considerably stronger than stainless steel, so it is made to last. In addition, an epoxy resin coating protects all the working parts from corrosion, and it has a durable ABS plastic shell.

The pump has a thermal cutout to protect it from overheating should it run dry. In addition, it is easy to clean and maintain as the components easily clip off and on again.

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hygger Mini Aquarium Air Pump Kit HG949

Looking for a complete kit for your small freshwater or marine aquarium or hydroponics? The hygger air pump kit has it all. The energy-efficient pump comes with a 0.9-inch air stone and a 3.6-foot air tube. It also has a check valve to prevent back siphoning in the case of power failure.

The 1-watt air pump is energy efficient. It has a flow rate of 50 gallons per hour and can maintain a 20-gallon aquarium with a large air stone and small sponge filter. The pump emits less the 35 dB in noise, so it won’t keep you up at night.

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Buyer’s Guide

The right choice of aquarium pump is essential for the health of your tank and its inhabitants. Several questions will help determine which one is right for you.

  • What is your tank capacity?
  • How many outlet ports do you need?
  • What is your budget?
  • How important is noise to you?

Flow Rate

The size of your tank should guide you on what size pump to buy. All aquarium pumps come with aquarium tank size specifications. If the flow is too high, you can add a valve to the pump and turn it down. As a rule of thumb, you should use a pump that can completely circulate your tank water five times an hour.

Establish your aquarium holding capacity and multiply that by five to get the flow rate required for your pump. Since other factors like plumbing can affect the actual flow rate, it is always better to buy one size up.

Noise Level

An aquarium is something that many households enjoy. It should be a place of tranquility, peaceful and quiet. Many of the best aquarium water pumps run at a very acceptable level of sound. If your pump is too noisy, try placing it on a mouse pad or a blanket to absorb the hum.

If the pump or air stone is dirty or clogged, the pump will have to work harder and make more noise; cleaning your pump and air stones might resolve the problem.

Types of Water Pumps

There are several different water pumps, but the two most popular are submersible and in-line pumps.

Submersible Pumps

Submersible water pumps are the most common and run entirely submerged in water. They often reside in the sump of the filtration system. Typically, they suck water from the filter and then pump it back into the aquarium, often through a UV light sterilizer.

Submersible pumps are quieter than in-line pumps. They are water-cooled, so they shouldn’t overheat, and installation is quick and easy.

On the downside, submersible pumps generate heat when operating and will heat the water around them, so these pumps are not recommended for cold water tanks.

In-Line Pumps

In-line pumps are installed outside of the tank. They connect to the filter inlet and outlet pipes. These pumps can be powerful and work well with larger aquariums. They are air-cooled, so they don’t heat up the water.

Battery Operated In-Line Air Pumps

Many aquarium owners buy battery-operated aquarium pumps as a precautionary measure in case the power goes out. They are also helpful in transporting fish.  Some in-line electrical pumps also offer battery backup systems to guard against electrical failure.


The installation of all of the reviewed pumps is easy and shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes.

  1. First, collect all the components you need to install your pump. You will need a pump, an air stone, and tubing for the air.
  2. Measure the air tube from where you plan to place the air stone to the location of the pump. Ideally, you should put the air stone away from your filter intake. Make sure not to kink the tube; you need a free flow of air to the air stone. Cut the tubing with an extra foot or so in case you need to change the layout during installation.
  3. Attach the tubing, making sure that you have a snug fit. If the tube floats around in the tank, tuck it behind a rock, plant, or ornament. If you have a valve, install it and then check it.


How Does an Aquarium Water Pump Work?

All living creatures, including your aquarium fish, need oxygen to live. An aquarium water pump helps to create enough oxygen to keep the fish and plants in your aquarium healthy. Gases, including oxygen, dissolve in water.

The surface area of the water determines the rate at which the gas dissolves. An aquarium water pump agitates the water increasing the surface area, which creates pressure in the water to keep it moving.

The pump draws air through a one-way inlet valve before ejecting it into the water via the outlet. This creates bubbles in the water.

Where Should I Place My Aquarium Water Pump?

The water should flow in the same direction as the filter to ensure optimum circulation in your tank. If you place your pump in any other direction, you will disrupt the circulation of the water. The goal is to increase the current in the tank, moving as much water as possible and creating fewer dead spots.

How Loud are Aquarium Water Pumps?

Aquarium water pumps are not very loud. Typically, they emit between 25 and 45 dB of noise: the higher the flow rate, the louder the noise. It is possible to dampen the sound by placing your pump on a blanket or mouse pad.

Also, ensure that the pump and accessories are kept clean. Clogged components will force the pump to work harder, which will create more noise.


Setting up an aquarium is an exciting project that could involve the whole family. However, choosing the right pump for your tank will ensure that you don’t suffer buyer’s remorse.

Match the size and flow rate with the size of your aquarium and set it up so that the water flows throughout the tank, leaving no dead spots.