You might be thinking what’s the point of getting an aquarium powerhead? Is it worth making the splurge?

Well, aquarium powerheads play vital roles in both freshwater and saltwater aquarium. These little circulation pumps are extremely essential and play a crucial part in the well-being of the fishes and other aquatic lives.

In nature many fishes live in moderate to strong current. As an aquarist it is your solemn duty to replicate the environment of their natural habitat. And a powerhead helps you exactly to do that.

There are numerous aquarium powerheads available in the market but not all of them provide the same level of performance.

If you’re a newbie then finding the right one for your tank can be quite a daunting task. This article will help you find the best aquarium powerhead or circulation pump for your tank. Before we jump into the details lets a take a look at our top picks –

What is an Aquarium Powerhead?

The aquarium powerhead looks a lot similar to an aquarium filter specially the internal power filters. However, it doesn’t perform any filtration process.

A powerhead creates waves (should call it circulation) with uniform flow throughout the tank which eventually helps to circulate an even range of temperature throughout the tank.

Powerhead also refrains detritus and other matters from settling down at the bottom of the tank. It helps the particles to be circulated around the tank and allowing them to be regularly filtered by the mechanical filter.

It increases the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water so that fishes can breathe better which promotes healthy growth among the fishes.


It creates a healthy environment for not only the fishes but also for the aquatics plants and corals inside the tank.

Wavemakers and Powerheads are not the same. They have different working principle and purpose. Checkout our reviews on the best aquarium wavemakers.

Best Aquarium Powerheads Reviewed

1. Tiger Pumps 120GPH – Best Aquarium Submersible Water Pump

The Tiger Pumps 120GPH is a great option for tanks that hold up to 120-gallons. It’s an extremely durable pump that can be placed into aquariums, fountains, ponds, as well as hydroponic pump systems.

It has a super compact and lightweight design that can be fully submerged in the water. It weighs only 12.6 ounces with a dimension of 2.58″ x 1.61″ x 1.94″ that can be easily stored in the tank. It features four individual suction cups that effectively locks to any kind of surface.

The flow rate plays a crucial role when it comes about the performance of the powerhead. This bad boy features a quickly adjustable flow rate with a well-designed valve that can reach up to a flow rate of 120-gallons per hour. This feature is extremely useful as it allows you to create a favorable environment for the fishes.

If you’re bothered by the sound of the powerhead then this unit is a perfect option for you as it has low noise operation system. The best part of this device is that it comes at a very reasonable price. Also, you get 100% money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the performance.

Tiger Pumps 120GPH Submersible Water Pump
Tiger Pumps Submersible Water Pump


  • Lightweight and durable
  • Sturdy construction
  • Low noise operation
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Affordable


  • The flow rate isn’t very high

2. Cobalt Aquatics MJ – Best Multipurpose Powerhead Pump For Aquarium

Cobalt is well-known among the aquarists for their amazing range of products. The Cobalt Aquatics MJ multipurpose is one of their finest creations that is loaded with awesome features.

The build construction is super sturdy and durable in the Cobalt MJ. Along with the phenomenal durability, you’ll also get 3 year’s manufacturer’s warranty with this unit. So, if you face any problem with this powerhead, you can always ask for a refund or repair from the manufacturer.

This powerhead is fully submergible in the water and if you’re looking for a powerhead that can thrive through harsh conditions then the Cobalt MJ is certainly your guy. It has a triple suction cup mount that will enable you to fit this easily inside the tank.

This unit has a flow rate of 106-gallons per hour. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well beyond that range. It has a low voltage operation that ensures safety and low energy consumption. It comes with a 6 feet cord that gives you the flexibility to power it in your convenient place.

Cobalt Aquatics MJ Water Pump Multi-Purpose Powerhead
Cobalt Aquatics MJ Water Pump Multi-Purpose Powerhead


  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Triple suction cup for an easy mounting process
  • Quiet noise-free operation
  • Long power cord


  • The water flow rate is low

3. Marineland Penguin – Best Aquarium Pump Submersible

Marineland is known to create phenomenal products and their Penguine Submersible Powerhead Pump is no different. There are three sizes available on this model which offers more flexibility for tanks with different size ranges.

It has a very compact design that offers outstanding durability. It has an easy setup procedure with a great mounting facility that enables you easily place it inside the aquarium. It weighs only about 1.14 pounds with a dimension of 2.3 x 5.1 x 7.1 inches.

There’s an adjustable water flow system which ensures that a perfect water flow condition for the delicate fishes. The custom regulator valve regulates the water flow in this unit.

This unit is suitable for both saltwater and freshwater fishes. So, no matter what kind of tank you own, this device will continuously provide you with top-notch service. Also, this powerhead will be an excellent choice for you if you’re sensitive about noise. It has a very smooth noiseless operation that works like a charm.

Marineland Penguin Submersible Power Head Pump
Marineland Penguin Submersible Power Head Pump


  • Affordable
  • Available in various sizes
  • Adjustable water flow
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Sturdy design


  • Not very powerful

4. AquaClear 50 – Best Powerhead for saltwater aquarium

If you’re looking a high-quality powerhead for your aquarium then the AquaClear 50 is the one for you. It’s a very powerful device that has a very easy setup procedure. You can either set this up using the top mounting bracket or by using the suction cups.

The AquaClear 50 has a very compact and lightweight design. It uses an impeller instead of a propeller which helps it to achieve the compact size. The impeller also enables to get rid of reverse flow which is a common phenomenon in powerheads.

It’s also insulated with epoxy resin which offers outstanding durability and enables it to survive through the harsh environmental condition. So this is perfect for saltwater or reef tanks as well. Also, noise is never a problem with this powerhead as it has a very smooth and quiet operating process.

It comes with an adjustable flow rate that allows you to choose the direction along with the rate of flow. So, you can always choose the flow rate that’s favorable for the types of fishes and tank you own. It has a maximum flow rate of 270-gallon per hour.

The best part is not only working as a powerhead but also provides the additional features of a mechanical filter to keep the water extra clean and breathable for the fishes.

AquaClear 50 Powerhead
AquaClear 50 Powerhead


  • Compact size
  • Very powerful
  • The maximum flow rate of 270-GPH
  • Also works as a mechanical filter
  • Epoxy resin insulation makes it perfect for saltwater or reef tanks


  • Slightly expensive

5. Odyssea EX – Best Submersible pump for aquarium

The Odeyssea EX Powerhead is an amazing equipment that’s suitable for both saltwater and freshwater tanks. It comes with suction cups that help to mount the powerhead inside the tank. The suction cups keep the device effectively placed in its position.

It has a very sturdy build construction. It features a weight of only a pound with a dimension of 7 x 6 x 3.5 inches. Along with easy setup procedures, it comes with easy maintenance system. It is equipped with airline and strainer that keep the impurities out of the pump.

They Odyssea EX 350 has an adjustable water flow system which enables you to pick the most suitable flow speed for the fishes. Also, there’s a flow director which helps to flow the water in the direction you want to flow. It has very high water flowing capacity and the maximum ranges up to 350-gallons per hour.

It comes with a very long power cord that also provides more flexibility for its placement. If you’re generally bothered by the noise made by powerheads then do give this a try as it doesn’t make much noise.

Odyssea EX Powerhead Water Pump
Odyssea EX Powerhead Water Pump


  • Lightweight
  • The flow rate of 350-gallon per hour
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy setup procedures


  • Not suitable for very large fish tanks

6. Aquaneat Powerhead – best aquarium circulation pump

If you’re looking for budget powerhead with phenomenal performance then the Aquaneat Submersible is the one for you. Despite the affordable price tag, it offers great quality as well as durability.

The Aquaneat has an outstanding build quality with a weight of only 12 ounces. It runs on 110-120V/60Hz which consumes very little energy. Setting up this water pump involves a few quick and simple procedures. All you need to do is to mount it to the suction pumps and choose the right spot it inside the tank.

This powerhead is suitable for both saltwater and freshwater tanks. It includes proper tubing and strainers which helps to keep the debris and impurities away from the pump. It effectively increases the oxygen level in the tank so that the fishes can breathe better.

It includes an adjustable water flow system which enables you to pick the most suitable flow rate and direction. It can flow at 350-gallons per hour at maximum in any direction. This flow rate is suitable for tanks sized up to 30 gallons. However, it’s not an ideal choice for tanks over 30-gallons.

AQUANEAT Aquarium Powerhead
AQUANEAT Aquarium Powerhead


  • Affordable
  • Easy to set up and clean
  • The water flow rate of 350-gallon per hour
  • Helps to increase the oxygen level
  • Lightweight


  • Not suitable for tanks over 30-gallons

How to Choose the Right Aquarium Powerhead?

Choosing the right or best aquarium water pump doesn’t follow any specific guideline. Go for the one that provides the best value for you and the tank. However, there are several factors you can consider before purchasing the power head so that you can get the best performance out of it.

Best Powerhead For Aquarium

Tank Size

Choose the powerhead or circulation pump according to the shape of the aquarium. If you own a large tank with a lot of fishes then getting a single powerhead will not be sufficient. You can get multiple small powerheads to equip in your aquaria as that will offer more flexibility in the overall system.

Placement Position

If you have already figured out the amount of water movement you need then choose a favorable spot that will provide the optimum amount of movement. The important factor is to make sure that every part of the tank is covered and there’s no dead spot.

The placement position also depends on factors such as the type of tank, how much room available etc. If you own a planted tank, the placement will be quite different than reef tanks. The bottom line places the powerhead in a position so that the entire tank gets benefited from it other than only concentrating on specific parts.

Noise Level

As much as you love your fishes and you’d do anything for them. But, sometimes the constant noises are bothersome and they do get on the nerves. If you’re sensitive about such issues then make sure the aquarium powerhead you go for doesn’t make much noise or even if it does, it’s within your tolerance level.

Flow Rate

The flow rate is one of the most essential features that you should look for in the aquarium powerhead. Make sure it turns the water over at least 6 to 10 times per hours and more if possible. Bear in mind that the water movement shouldn’t restrict the fishes to move against the current. Choose a favorable flow rate that enables the fishes to easily roam around the tank.

Wrapping Up

Powerheads are often neglected and not gives as important as the other equipment in an aquarium. Now that you have gathered enough ideas about the important features of an aquarium powerhead it’ll be easier for you to make the ultimate purchase decision.

The market is filled with countless models but we can assure you that we have picked the best aquarium powerhead. All the units we have chosen will provide an excellent environment for the fishes and they are suitable for both saltwater and freshwater tanks.

So, choose the one that meets your requirements and create a happy place for your fishes.

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