Best Aquarium Powerhead Reviews – 10 Picks, Feedback, FAQs & More

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You’ll agree with us when we say that investing in the proper aquarium powerhead can really do wonders for your aquarium. 

This prompted us to experiment with different aquarium powerheads that are available in the market so we could find the best ones out there. 

In today’s post, we’ll look at how aquarium powerheads work and what sets a great aquarium powerhead apart from a mediocre one. 

Top Pick

Coming with a durable impeller system, this product comes in many different sizes and provides powerful performance alongside quiet operation. It's extremely cost-effective.

Runner Up

This product features a clever design that helps it perform well in your aquarium while utilizing the least amount of electricity. It’s extremely user-friendly and is known for its consistency.

Also Great

This lightweight powerhead is extremely easy to mount and can be adapted to several different aquarium conditions. It doesn’t take up a lot of space inside your fish tank either.

After months of rigorous testing, we can definitively say that these three powerheads offer the best performance out of all the products we tested. 

Now, let’s get into the reviews for the top 10 best aquarium powerheads.

Best Aquarium Powerhead - Top 10 Reviews

1. All-Around Best Aquarium Powerhead - Cobalt Aquatics MJ Water Pump Multi-Purpose Powerhead Review

This product is made for aquarists of all types. This is because Cobalt Aquatics has gone and manufactured an aquarium powerhead that can be installed into any type of aquarium. We tested this product with a freshwater aquarium, a saltwater aquarium, a coldwater tank, and a tropical tank and it yielded incredibly impressive results in all of them. 

It’s very easy to install into your aquarium and the triple suction-cup mounting mechanism ensures that the powerhead is firmly held in place and that it does not get dislodged due to its vibrations that occur during operation.

Features of Cobalt Aquatics MJ Water Pump Multi-Purpose Powerhead – Best Aquarium Powerhead

  1. Available in four different sizes
  2. Triple suction-cup mount
  3. 360-degree rotatable
  4. 6-foot long power cord
  5. Fully submersible
  • Quiet operation
  • Waterproof
  • Easy to mount
  • Highly durable
  • Comes with a 3-year warranty
  • Effective in all types of aquariums
  • Flow rate is not adjustable

If you’re looking for a dependable aquarium powerhead that is not too difficult to use, then this is the product for you. It’s manufactured in Italy and built from high-quality materials which ensure it will last you a long time.

2. Best Timer-Ready Aquarium Powerhead - Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump Review

With a sturdy design and a patented magnet suction-cup mounting base, this product exudes quality as soon as you take it out of the box. It has three versions with three different flow rates which allows it to be suitable for a wide variety of aquarium sizes. 

You will find that even though it offers extremely powerful performance, it operates very quietly and does not disturb or stress your fish out at all. It’s also purposefully designed to be as user-friendly as possible. 

Features of Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump

  1. Available in three different sizes
  2. Sizes have flow rates of 240 GPH, 425 GPH and 565 GPH
  3. Magnet suction-cup
  4. Compatible with most timers and controllers
  5. Low voltage transformer
  • Highly effective performance
  • Low energy consumption
  • Operates silently
  • Doesn’t take up too much space
  • Lightweight for how powerful it is
  • Even the smallest size is too powerful for smaller aquariums (less than 50 gallons) 

If you’re looking for an aquarium powerhead that can easily be connected and programmed with a timer, you’ve just found it. This product is very user-friendly and can easily be hooked up to most commonly found timers and controllers.

3. Best 3-in-1 Aquarium Powerhead - Marineland Maxi-Jet Pro Pump Review

With its intricately designed exterior and durable impellers, this product creates movement inside your aquarium that is not only pleasing to look at but it also does an incredible job of spreading nutrients around evenly so that all of your aquarium’s inhabitants can gain value from them. 

Not only that, but it also does a great job of dislodging detritus that gets deposited on your aquarium’s corners so that it eventually gets swept up by your filter. 

Features of Marineland Maxi-Jet Pro Pump

  1. Available in four different sizes
  2. Flow rates ranging from 500 GPH to 1300 GPH
  3. Can be used as a powerhead, utility pump or circulation pump
  4. Works effectively even if you have an under-gravel filter
  5. Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
  • Durable exterior
  • Great value for money
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Lightweight and easy to handle
  • Energy-efficient
  • Tends to get noisy over time

If you’re looking for an aquarium powerhead that can act as a utility or circulation pump as well then this product is perfect for you. It’s ideal for beginners and veterans alike and it is very sturdy.

4. Best Quiet Aquarium Powerhead - AquaClear 50 Powerhead Review

This wonderful product is intuitively designed to be as easy to mount as possible. Its intricately designed outlet port can be adjusted to change the water’s direction. If you mount this aquarium powerhead near the bottom of your aquarium, it does a great job of improving the water flow and circulation within your gravel substrate. 

This not only encourages increased absorption of nutrients by your aquarium plants’ roots but it also helps dislodge any dirt and debris that’s stuck between your aquarium gravel.

It has a maximum flow rate of 270 gallons per hour which makes it perfect for aquariums up to 65 gallons.

Features of AquaClear 50 Powerhead

  1. Dimensions: 4.5 inches by 2 inches by 3 inches
  2. Weight: 1.5 pounds
  3. Can be connected to a protein skimmer
  4. Adjustable flow rate
  5. Suction-cup mounting
  • Silent operation
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to use
  • Low power consumption
  • Small footprint
  • Ugly appearance

If you’re worried about your aquarium powerhead being too loud and disturbing your fish, then this product is perfect for you. It produces little to no noise and provides consistent performance for a very long time.

5. Best Fully Submersible Aquarium Powerhead - Rio Plus 1700 Aqua Pump Review

The Rio Plus aquarium powerheads are known in the fishkeeping community because of their sturdiness and consistent performance and this product is certainly a reason why. It features a well-built exterior that can be used not only in indoor aquariums but also in outdoor settings such as in a pond. 

It consists of a magnetic rotor that you can easily fully submerge without having to worry about rust or corrosion. It’s able to work efficiently in all types of aquatic environments without breaking a sweat. We’ve been running this product in three of our aquariums for months and none of the three units have shown any hiccups of any sort.

Features of Rio Plus 1700 Aqua Pump

  1. Dimensions: 5.8 inches by 4.2 inches by 2.6 inches
  2. Weight: 2.7 pounds
  3. Fully submersible
  4. Can be used in freshwater or saltwater aquariums
  5. Maximum flow rate: 782 gallons per hour
  • Can be used in aquariums as well as in ponds
  • Affordable
  • Energy-efficient
  • Incredibly sturdy
  • Quiet operation
  • Quite heavy and difficult to handle

If you want an aquarium powerhead that works effectively when fully submerged underwater then this product is ideal for you. It’s energy-efficient and offers a high flow rate.

6. Best Aquarium Powerhead with 360-Degree Rotation - SUNSUN JVP Series Submersible Circulation Powerhead Pump Review

This SUNSUN JVP series sets itself apart by selling their aquarium powerheads in packs of 2 and 4. This means that if you have a very large aquarium that can’t be fully accommodated by just a single powerhead that has a flow rate of 800 gallons per hour, then you can opt to buy two or four of them as a part of a package. 

They are extremely easy to set up due to their suction-cup mounts and you’ll found that installing multiple units of these inside your aquarium will create a very natural ocean-like environment inside which will help eliminate any dead spots and keep your fish healthy and stimulated.

Features of SUNSUN JVP Series Submersible Circulation Powerhead Pump

  1. Dimensions: 6 inches by 4 inches by 4 inches
  2. Weight: 8.8 ounces
  3. Comes as a single item or in packs of 2 or packs of 4
  4. 360-degree rotatable
  5. Maximum flow rate of 800 GPH
  • Easy to mount
  • Easy to use
  • Incredibly powerful performance
  • Waterproof
  • Ideal for larger aquariums
  • Quite heavy and bulky

If you’re looking for an aquarium powerhead whose water flow’s direction you can adjust easily then this product is for you. It’s incredibly easy to install and it creates water movement that is very stimulating for your fish.

7. Best Affordable Aquarium Powerhead - Marineland Penguin Submersible Power Head Pump Review

The Marineland Penguin aquarium powerhead features a compact design that is very easy to mount onto your aquarium and begin using. It features a fully adjustable outlet that you can use underwater for maximum water circulation or you can aim it upwards for water surface agitation so the water becomes more oxygenated. 

The custom air valve that’s built into it enables you to adjust the water flow until it’s appropriate for your particular aquarium setup.

It also features an air filter which ensures that no dust or debris particles are incorporated into your aquarium water as the aquarium powerhead is operating.

Features of Marineland Penguin Submersible Power Head Pump

  1. Comes in three sizes
  2. The three sizes have flow rates of 145 GPH, 170 GPH and 300 GPH
  3. Can be used in both freshwater and marine aquariums
  4. Fully adjustable outlet
  5. Fully submersible
  • Easy to assemble
  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight
  • Doesn’t take up too much space
  • Sturdy
  • Not suitable for larger aquariums

If you’re worried about spending too much money on an aquarium powerhead then this product is definitely for you. Its price is cheap but nothing about its build quality or its performance is cheap. 

8. Best Energy-Efficient Aquarium Powerhead - Aqueon Aquarium Circulation Pump Review

With five different sizes to choose from, this product encompasses a wide range of sizes when it comes to aquariums. Not only size but it’s also very versatile when it comes to types of aquariums as well as it can be placed in freshwater as well as saltwater aquariums. 

This product is known to create very natural and ocean-like movements inside aquariums which are especially useful for aquarium plants and corals. 

Even though the flow rate increases by a lot among the higher versions but the wattage that is utilized by them does not increase that much. The lowest flow rate version uses about 2.6 watts of power whereas the highest flow rate version only uses 8.3 watts. 

Features of Aqueon Aquarium Circulation Pump

  1. Available in five different sizes
  2. Flow rates ranging from 500 GPH to 1650 GPH
  3. Easy-lock suction cups for mounting
  4. Cord-holding clip
  5. Appropriate for aquariums between 20 gallons to 180 gallons
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy to install
  • Lightweight
  • Takes up minimal space inside your tank
  • Low power consumption
  • Relatively expensive

If you’re worried about your aquarium powerhead using up a lot of electricity then this is the product you’re looking for. It’s designed to utilize electricity as efficiently as possible and it’s also very lightweight considering how powerful it is.

9. Best Durable Aquarium Powerhead - Odyssea EX Powerhead Water Pump Review

This product is perfect for small to medium-sized aquariums, i.e., aquariums ranging anywhere between 40 – 80 gallons. It features a solid, sturdy body that is able to withstand the constant pressure of pulling and forcing large amounts of water. We’ve been using it for months and it has not shown any signs of slowing down. 

The manufacturer claims that this product can last for several years and judging by the performance we’ve seen over the last few months so far, we’re inclined to believe them.

The output spout that’s built into it can also be adjusted if you want to change the water’s direction. 

Features of Odyssea EX Powerhead Water Pump

  1. Available in two sizes
  2. The two sizes have flow rates of 250 GPH and 350 GPH
  3. Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater tanks
  4. Suction-cup mounting
  5. Built-in strainer
  • Energy-efficient
  • Inexpensive
  • Highly sturdy
  • Simple to use
  • Quite easy to set up
  • Produce minimal noise
  • Looks quite ugly
  • Only available in two sizes

If you’re looking for a long-lasting aquarium powerhead then this product is ideal for you. It’s incredibly well-made and does not produce a lot of noise while it’s working.

10. Best High-Output Aquarium Powerhead - KEDSUM Aquarium Circulation Powerhead Pump Review

There are a lot of things that we loved about this aquarium powerhead which we were not expecting to. Firstly, it comes with a built-in wave maker which ensures that the waves produced inside your aquarium are both pleasing to look at and also very stimulating for your fish. The waves that this product produces encourage excitement and activity in your fish which can help them thrive and live a healthy life. 

The way this product produces movement in your water ensures that the maximum amount of oxygen gets dissolved from the air into it. 

Features of KEDSUM Aquarium Circulation Powerhead Pump

  1. Maximum flow rate: 1850 gallons per hour
  2. 360-degree rotatable water spray outlet
  3. Suction-cup mounting seals
  4. Ideal for freshwater and marine environments
  5. Appropriate for aquariums between 100 gallons and 135 gallons
  • Quite compact
  • Easy installation
  • Operates silently
  • Durable
  • Budget-friendly
  • Uses a lot of electricity
  • Not suitable for smaller aquariums

If you’re looking for a high-output aquarium powerhead for your large aquarium then you’ve just found it. This product is extremely effective in aquariums up to 135 gallons and even though it has a high output, it still runs very quietly.

best aquarium powerhead

 

Buyers’ Guide

 

What is an aquarium powerhead and what is its purpose in a fish tank? 

Ample and constant water movement is quite beneficial for your aquatic life as it helps the corals, plants, nitrifying bacteria, as well as the fish inside your aquarium, come into contact with all the beneficial nutrients present inside the water. 

If you have a powerful filter inside your aquarium but don’t have effective water circulation inside it, your filter won’t be working up to its full potential. It would only be filtering water present near it and the rest of the water that’s present in the opposite corners of your aquarium would not be getting filtered. The same goes for heaters as well; they would be heating up water that’s near it and not your entire aquarium. 

The solution to this problem is to have some form of equipment inside your aquarium that helps the water circulate effectively and consistently. One such piece of equipment is known as an aquarium powerhead. It’s a relatively small device that is mounted inside your aquarium and it helps circulate water consistently throughout your aquarium. 

How does an aquarium powerhead work?

Powerheads are relatively small and most well-built ones don’t take up a lot of space inside your fish tank. Most of them have sealed motors which means that they can safely be submerged underwater without any risks of electrocution. 

The way aquarium powerheads work is very simple. They have a motor fitted inside them which is powered through electricity or batteries. This motor helps the aquarium powerhead suck in the water from one side and then force this water out from another side through its outlet. By adjusting the direction of the outlet and its orientation, etc., you can have a lot of control over the direction of the water flow and the way water circulates inside your aquarium.

How can I judge which aquarium powerhead is most appropriate for me? 

There are many different aspects of aquarium powerheads which you can look towards that will help you make your decision as to which one would be best for you. Some of the aspects you should think about when purchasing an aquarium powerhead are: 

  • Aquarium Size 

How powerful of an aquarium powerhead you get depends on a number of factors but one of the most significant factors is your aquarium’s size. Smaller aquariums can generally work with weaker aquarium powerheads and some of them are so small, they don’t even require one. 

However, if you have a large aquarium such as one that is, say, above 100 gallons, you’re going to want to invest in a powerful enough aquarium powerhead that will be to adequately circulate the water to all of its four corners. If you can’t find an aquarium powerhead that’s powerful enough for your aquarium, you can even opt to install more than one inside it. 

  • Noise Levels 

It’s a good idea to look at reviews in order to find out whether the aquarium powerhead you’re thinking of getting operates quietly or not. If you already have a filter and a heater or other aquarium equipment inside your aquarium, it’s essential that if you’re adding an aquarium powerhead as well, that it be a quiet one. 

How do I install an aquarium powerhead? 

Installation of an aquarium powerhead can vary depending on the manufacturer but in general, most of them are designed to be mounted to your aquarium’s inner wall using some sort of mechanism such as a magnetic base mount or a suction-cup mount. 

Securely, mount your aquarium powerhead using whatever mechanism is available to you and then plug the power cord into an electrical socket. Note that before plugging the power cord in, you should ensure that it is completely dry and also make sure that no water will drip onto it and into the electrical socket during operation. 

What are the different types of aquarium powerheads?

There are mainly three distinct types of aquarium powerheads: 

  • Jet-stream Powerheads 

These are a common choice for most aquariums and they operate by creating a single stream of water with a strong current that flows inside your aquarium. 

  • Propeller Powerheads

As the name suggests, these types of aquarium powerheads make use of a propeller to create the power necessary for water circulation inside your aquarium. They are quite a popular choice among aquarists because they are energy-efficient. 

  • Cross-Flow Powerheads 

These are a newer type of aquarium powerhead and they are characterized by the unique patterns of water movements they create inside your aquarium. Unlike a jet-stream powerhead that creates a single stream, these powerheads generate multiple streams. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Where do I place an aquarium powerhead in my fish tank? 

This depends on a few factors, mainly what type of aquarium you have and what type of inhabitants it houses. 

For most tanks, you can have your aquarium powerhead near the floor of your aquarium. This creates a natural ocean-like movement that will help nutrients float well to your plants and fish and will also help dislodge waste and detritus which may have built up in the corners of your aquarium. 

If you feel your tank has a problem with low oxygen levels, you may want to place your aquarium powerhead near to the top surface of the water. This will help create movement at the top surface which will help the water absorb oxygen from the air. 

How can I tell how powerful of an aquarium powerhead I need for my fish tank? 

As we mentioned earlier in this post, it’s the aquarium powerhead’s flow rate which determines how powerful it is. The general rule of thumb when it comes to estimating the appropriate flow rate for your aquarium powerhead is that the flow rate should be at least four times the amount of water you have inside your aquarium. This means that the aquarium powerhead should be able to circulate the entirety of your aquarium’s water at least four times within one hour. For example, if you have a 20-gallon aquarium, you should invest in an aquarium powerhead that has a minimum flow rate of 80 gallons per hour. 

How do I use my aquarium powerhead? 

Aquarium powerheads are relatively straightforward to use. Some of them may come with controllers that let you adjust their flow rate or direction but most of them are simply characterized as “plug-and-play” powerheads which means that all you have to do is just plug them in and let them work their magic. 

How do I care for and maintain my aquarium powerhead? 

Aquarium powerheads are generally resistant to the buildup of waste simply by virtue of the fact that they have parts that are constantly in motion. However, they do need to be cleaned every few months or so. 

You can easily clean your aquarium powerhead by unplugging it, disassembling all its parts and soaking it in a cleaning solution overnight. You can make use of an old toothbrush to scrape off any waste that has deposited into any corners.

What are the most reliable brands currently manufacturing aquarium powerheads? 

Some of the most reputable brands are:

  • Hydor
  • Aqueon
  • Marineland
  • Cobalt Aquatics
  • SUNSUN 
  • Aquaneat

Where can I buy aquarium powerheads from reliably? 

Aquarium powerheads are not that difficult to find. You can easily buy aquarium powerheads reliably online using websites such as Amazon or you can check out your local pet store. 

How can I repair my aquarium powerhead if it malfunctions? 

Most aquarium powerheads tend to stop working when they get something stuck inside them. It’s a good idea to completely disassemble your aquarium powerhead in order to ensure there’s nothing stuck inside which could be preventing it from operating properly. 

If this isn’t the case, there could be something wrong with your motor. If that is the case then we suggest either contacting the manufacturer or your nearest local pet store to see if they can fix it. 

How long do aquarium powerheads normally last? 

Most high-quality aquarium powerheads can last you many years. Most of them come with warranties that last 2 – 3 years so you can get a replacement if it malfunctions within that period. You may have to get the impellers replaced every 12 – 18 months or so but as long as you clean your aquarium powerheads regularly, they will last you several years. 

Can aquarium powerheads rust? 

Aquarium powerheads are generally made of hard plastic or other materials that don’t rust. Even if your aquarium powerhead is made of metal, it will be made of one that is rustproof. Manufacturers understand that aquarium powerheads are going to be in direct contact with water constantly and they develop their products accordingly so that they don’t rust. 

My aquarium powerhead is not running at the flow rate it claims to run at. What could be causing this?

This could be caused by some sort of obstruction inside your aquarium powerhead. We recommend that you disassemble it and ensure there’s nothing blocking the impellers or any other part of your powerhead. 

If this isn’t the case, it’s possible that your powerhead is not running at the maximum voltage. Try connecting it to a different power socket to see if it runs at its proper flow rate or not. 

If this doesn’t fix it either, then we recommend contacting the manufacturer. 

Final Verdict

Aquarium powerheads are a powerful piece of aquarium equipment that very few aquarists are investing in and taking advantage of. 

In the end, we’ve concluded that the Cobalt Aquatics MJ Water Pump Multi-Purpose Powerhead is the best aquarium powerhead we had the pleasure of testing. It’s incredibly versatile and comes with an extremely durable body. 

This brings us to the end of our post for the best aquarium powerheads. 

Give us feedback and let us know which powerhead you’re using inside your aquarium.

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