We discuss the different types of pond pumps, what each of these do and why you may need them in your pond. If you are interested in starting to create your own pond, or are looking to upgrade your current one, we provide useful tips and product recommendations in our detailed guide.
What types of pond pumps are there?
There are a few different types of pond pumps, each serving a different purpose. Here we detail what these types are and why they are used in fish ponds.
Pond pumps are a versatile variety of pump, capable of moving volumes of water from A to B. This may be wet mounted (i.e. placed in the bottom of a pond, moving water from the pond into a filtration system – this is normally referred to as a ‘pump fed system’) or dry mounted (i.e. placed outside the pond, after a filtration system working in conjunction with a bottom drain, returning water to the pond – this is normally referred to as a ‘gravity fed system’).
Pond pumps are frequently used as waterfall pumps, in a stand-alone situation or in conjunction with a filter.
A pond air pump is a vital part of most ponds (and aquariums). Air pumps provide a much-needed supply of oxygen to your pond and, in some instances, filtration systems which keep your fish in excellent health and maintain good water clarity.
All aquatic life require a certain level of oxygen. In the warmer months, and during a thunderstorm, ponds can become depleted of oxygen. It is during these times that it is important to have as much oxygen in the pond as possible as a belt and braces approach to keeping your fish happy.
If you would like to learn more about how to care for your pond fish, read our full guide on our blog or get in touch for professional advice today!
Pond fountain pumps are a form of pond pump which are always wet mounted (i.e. installed under water in the pond). Fountain pumps generally have a finer surrounding cage to stop large solids passing through the fountain (causing blockages) and, on occasion, a fine filter sponge internally.
In all instances, fountain pumps will come with a fountain style kit with interchangeable and extendable stems and heads to suit a variety of pond situations. Sometimes, fountain pumps may have a diverter valve allowing some water to be sent in the direction of a waterfall/filtration system simultaneously.
Feature pumps are miniature scale pond pumps. They work in exactly the same way, but generally have a much smaller size footprint and turn over much less water than their pond pump counterpart.
Typical feature pumps will range from 400LPH – 1500LPH and, as the name suggests, they are designed to be used in conjunction with a water feature. Their small size allows them to be neatly hidden within the features’ water sump.
What are pond pumps used for?
The main function of having a pond pump is for filtering the water whilst stopping the water stagnating. Smelly, scummy water is generally caused by a lack of aeration and/or water movement. This can be solved with the addition of oxygenating aquatic plants however, most fish keepers will generally opt for some sort of pump in the pond.
Pond pumps drive water in the pond, normally through a filtration system which can be as simple as a reed bed or small box filter, but equally as extravagant as an Evolution Aqua Nexus Pond Pump or drum filter.
Pond Pumps are recirculation pumps, meaning that they do not add any new, additional water to the pond. Instead, they circulate the contents of the pond again and again. They come in a variety of styles and may be in the form of a small solar pump or a larger mains-powered, wet mounted pond pump.
How do pond pumps work?
Pond pumps work by moving water with an internal impeller, powered by an electric motor. As the impeller turns, water is drawn through the pump which is then expelled from the outlet.
The amount of water moving through a pump will be determined by the power of the electric motor combined with the size of the impeller. Pumps are graded by size, normally in litres per hour (LPH). Typically pond pumps will range in sizes from 3,000LPH upwards.
Air pumps consist of an electric motor which drives a diaphragm, pushing small amounts of air at high pressure/speed. This is normally sent down an airline to an aerated bottom drain or air stone(s), creating great plumes of oxygen rich, turbulent water.
Fountain pumps, feature pumps and solar pumps work in exactly the same way as a pond pump; an internal impeller, powered by an electric motor, spins drawing water through the pump and out of the fountain.
The main difference here is in the size of the system. These types of pumps are generally on a smaller scale, although certain fountain pumps designed for large ponds may be equal to or larger than pond pumps.
Does a fishpond need a pump?
Basic fishponds and nature ponds containing the likes of goldfish will not necessarily require a pump, providing they have a wealth of good oxygenating pond plants. In any other situation however, ponds will require a pump feeding water to a filtration system. Think of this as the life support machine for the ponds and its inhabitants.
In addition to this, pond pumps can be used in conjunction with filtration systems to power fountains and waterfalls which creates oxygenated water for the fish and water turbulence, helping the filter better clean the pond.
In most situations, we also recommend having an air pump in the pond as a belt and braces approach. While they’re not strictly necessary, they are a welcome addition in the warmer summer months when ponds can be depleted of oxygen. Air pumps will also create additional water turbulence which will assist the filtration system in doing its job effectively.
How to install pond pumps?
The first thing to consider when installing a pond pump is the positioning. Is the pump:
- Dry mounted (i.e. outside of the pond), or
- Wet mounted (i.e. underwater in the pond)
It is important during this decision to consider how effective the pond pump will be in that position. In wet mounted situations, pond pumps want to be at the deepest part of the pond in order to push any settling detritus into the filtration system.
Once this pump is in position, it is time to tackle the pond pipe work. Consider the best, neatest, most cost-effective route for the pipe work. This may be a flexible pipe, a solvent/waste pipe or pressure pipe. Ensure all connections are sealed well with jubilee clips or solvent cement. Check the pipework over, looking for any potential future problems. If the pump is wet mounted, you will need to be able to get the pump out of the pond for serving on occasion, so take this into consideration.
Now onto the final step, connecting the pump up to the electrics. We would recommend using a certified electrician for this part. Pond pumps may be plugged into an external grade IP-rated plug box or alternatively wired directly into a multi-port external grade IP-rated switch box.
Once all of the above steps have been actioned, it is time to turn on the power and enjoy your pond/water feature, checking again for any problematic leaks. Take your time installing pond pumps and remember these 3 important points:
- Use plenty of pond pipe cleaner and solvent cement on any solid pipe.
- Ensure any threaded sections are watertight with PTFE tape.
- Push the flexi-hose firmly on to hose connectors/menders, improving the fit with jubilee clips or wire clips which should be well tightened.
How long do pond pumps last?
Ponds pumps from various sources will undoubtedly last vastly different times. High quality pond pumps should last many years with frequent servicing and care. At the other end of the spectrum, cheap and poorly built pond pumps will unfortunately not last the test of time.
There is not a definitive answer to this question as there are many unknown variables however, a high quality, well looked after pump running 24/7 may well last 20+ years.
What size pump do I need for my pond?
As a rule of thumb and a minimum requirement, you want to turn over the volume of your pond water once every two hours, e.g. A 5,000 litre pond would have a minimum requirement of a 2,500LPH pond pump. Increased levels of circulation (i.e. larger pumps) may improve all aspects of the pond however, too much circulation can also cause issues.
An example of this is, filtration systems often have a maximum water flow to work effectively. It is important to:
- Understand the size of your pond;
- Select a suitable filtration system;
- Decide on the width/location of any waterfalls and features, and finally;
- Select your pump accordingly.
For the best advice on this, we recommend talking to our staff at Complete Koi & Aquatics.
Do pond pumps need electricity?
Most pumps do require electricity. There are options for solar pumps however, these are generally very low power. With most solar powered pumps, it will not be possible to use them in conjunction with a filtration system. They are typically used to move small volumes of water, stopping stagnation in small nature ponds and water features.
Are pond pumps expensive to run?
Pond pumps are generally very efficient and run at low wattages. While this is usually the case, it is important to remember that the larger the pump, the higher the electricity requirement, resulting in a higher running cost.
Pond pumps will generally be running 24/7, so the overall cost will have an impact on your electricity bill - it is good practice to consider how much it will cost prior to installing. Generally, the cost is negligible, but you should look for the most efficient and suitable pump for your pond - i.e. the lowest wattage combined with the highest power output.
How to keep pond pumps from clogging?
The best way of reducing the likelihood of pond pumps clogging is by selecting the correct pond pump. If the ponds are likely to have lots of large solids in the water, it is important to select a pond pump with large solids-handling capability and a powerful motor/impeller.
Pond pumps will get clogged up with solids from time to time. As mentioned previously, it is crucial to service the pump routinely. We would recommend removing the cage/pipework from the pump after disconnecting it from the electrics. Remove and clean the cage and impeller before reassembling and returning to the pond.
What are the best pond pumps?
Pond pumps come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but here is a break down of our favourites:
Submersible Pond Pumps – If you’re looking for a compact caged pump to place in your pond, then we highly recommend the Max Flo by Laguna. This product is very well made, providing a discreet and unrivalled performance that is ideal working in conjunction with a filtration system and/or a waterfall.
Performance Pond Pumps – If you’re looking for a high-performance pump, then look no further than the Hailea Pond Pump range by Charles Austen. Charles Austen are an extremely well established business, creating a plethora of pumps for a variety of highly technical situations; not just ponds! Their pond range is incredibly hard working and they really do last the test of time.
The Hailea range has the option of being dry mounted or wet mounted which is a fantastic feature. This is a firm favourite at Complete Koi and Aquatics. We run all of our pond systems on Hailea pumps, which speaks volumes. Lastly, the price of the Hailea pump is unrivalled - you really do get a lot of bang for your buck.
Variable Pond Pumps – Certain situations require a pond pump with controllable flow. Evolution Aqua created the Varipump Pond Pump range with this in mind. The Varipump is a fantastic piece of kit which can be both dry mounted and wet mounted.
The controllability will allow you to make adjustments to the flow rate, improving the aesthetics of waterfalls and increasing filtration efficiency, all while saving you money on electrical running costs in the process. They are incredibly well made, easy to install and come with a simple button controller allowing you to make the flow rate adjustments.
Fountain Pond Pump – Once again, we turn to Hagen for the best fountain pumps on the market. These are a variation on the Max Flo pump, called the Power Jet Waterfall Pump, and come with the all-important adapters and attachments to make a beautiful fountain in your pond.
The Max Flo pump also comes with an additional diverter valve, giving you the option of sending an adjustable volume of water to a filtration system or waterfall.
Feature Pumps – There is no need to break the bank when it comes to feature pumps. In our opinion, one of the best value feature pumps on the market, made by Bermuda, is also one of the best performers. These compact little pumps are incredibly low wattage and come in a variety of sizes from 400LPH upwards. In addition to this, Bermuda feature pumps also come with an adjustable dial allowing you to fine tune the flow rate in order to perfect your water.
Air Pump – When it comes to air pumps, we recommend not skimping. You want something which will last the test of time without the diaphragm breaking and once again, Charles Austen delivers the goods. The ET Air Pump range by Charles Austen are incredibly efficient, hardworking air pumps which are designed to be used in a multitude of situations, not just ponds!
They are well known for creating some of the best pumps in the world and the ET range is no exception. The ET range is both quiet and durable and is available in a variety of sizes to suit any pond.
Where to buy fish pond pumps?
Complete Koi and Aquatics stock a huge range of pond pumps, from crucial oxygenating air pumps to aesthetic waterfall features. Pop down to our store or give us a call today to discuss your options when setting up a safe and healthy pond for your fish.