If you’re trying to create an optimal system for your fish, corals, and invertebrates, you need to make sure you have water flowing around them.
Aquarium wavemakers are a great way to produce the current needed to give them a healthy environment while also making sure you are eliminating dead zones.
With technology advancing over the last ten years, wavemakers and circulation pumps have come an incredibly long way. With these advancements comes one major problem: too many options to choose from.Today, we’re going to help you save the time and frustrating of sifting through all of the available options yourself, to help you find the best aquarium wave maker for your specific setup.
What Are The Best Aquarium Wavemakers?
To help make our list, we have considered quite a few different factors. We break down each of those factors later in this guide but, for now, let’s get to what we believe to be the best aquarium wave makers in 2019.
At the top of our list is the Current USA eFlux WaveMaker pump. These pumps come in a wide variety of options, ranging from a 660 gallon-per-hour pump up to 2,100 gallons-per-hour.
The most significant selling point is that the eFlux WaveMaker works perfectly with Current USA’s Loop LED system. The pump provides near-silent operation, and the company offers fantastic customer support with a great warranty if you receive defective equipment.
- The pump integrates with Current USA’s Loop LED system for easy control.
- Current USA is known for providing fantastic customer service.
- The eFlux Wave Pump operates nearly silently, with no buzz or hum.
- The included manifold supports up to a maximum of 3 pumps.
- You’re limited to the specific sizes offered by the Current USA.
- The Gyre mode only works when you have multiple pumps synced.
2. Fluval Hagen Sea Circulation Pump - efficient and compact
Next up on our list is the Fluval Sea CP Wavemakers. These are manufactured through the parent company, Hagen, but Fluval handles the marketing. Both companies have an excellent reputation in the aquarium industry.
The Fluval Sea CP is Fluval’s first jump into developing high-quality wavemakers for aquarium enthusiasts. Engineered in Europe, you can see the quality in each pump. These AC powered pumps are, in general, more reliable than cheaper DC powered pumps.The only downside to the Fluval Hagen Sea is that Fluval has chosen to use suction cups instead of magnets. While magnets would be great, the suction cups do work as long as your glass is free from debris before attaching them to the glass.
- The Hagen name is known for high-quality products.
- This is one of the most competitively priced pumps available.
- The AC powered pump utilizes proven technology.
- The engineering in the pump guarantees years of hassle-free use.
- The pump uses a suction cup instead of magnets.
- The design is bulkier than others we’ve featured
- The pump isn’t controllable, by itself; a separate controller is required.
The MP10W QD Ecotech is one of the most preferred wavemakers by professional installers.
Whether you’re building a freshwater or a saltwater tank, the Ecotech is an excellent choice and uses a unique magnetic drive system to power the pump from outside of the tank.
Compare this to pumps that run wires into your tank, and you can quickly see the benefits. This is the only pump currently available that keeps your power wire outside of the tank.
The wavemaker comes with more functionality than other pumps, as well. You can choose from multiple wave settings and easily pair the pump to a Reef Link wireless controller. Ecotech also sells an external power supply that helps you if you lose power in your home or office.With the external power supply, you can keep the pump operating for days, even without a direct power source operating it. Couple this with a 1-year warranty and the deal is hard to beat.
- The Ecotech uses a patented magnetic drive system.
- The pump keeps your power cord outside and away from the water.
- Ecotech sells a power outage solution in case you frequently lose power.
- Each pump comes with a 1-year warranty to cover manufacturer defects.
- This is on the higher end of the price range of pumps we’ve featured.
4. Hydor Koralia Evolution Circulation Pump - Low energy consumption
Ask any experienced aquarist if they’ve heard of the Hydor Koralia Evolution and chances are high you’re going to get a resounding “yes.” This is one of the most well-known wavemakers ever to bless the aquascaping industry.
As DC-powered wavemakers have begun taking hold in the market, the Hydor Koralia has become less popular, but that only helps make the price even more competitive. If you are looking for a set-and-forget system, this is the one.
The pump can be adjusted a full 180 degrees, which means it works great if you are attaching it into the corner of your aquarium. The only downside to the Hydor Koralia is that it doesn’t offer the same level of control as newer DC-powered models do.
However, you get AC-powered reliability in its place, instead.
- This is one of the most competitively-priced wavemakers available.
- The Hydor Koralia is well-known for its quality and being a reputable pump.
- The Hydor utilizes proven AC power to increase its reliability.
- With the Hydor, you get full 180-degree adjustability.
- You may need to purchase a separate controller for wireless features.
- This is louder than some DC pumps available but still operates quietly.
5. Icecap 1K Gyre Aquarium Flow Pump - Provides great flow
The Icecap Gyre is another great wavemaker for a great price. The Gyre utilizes crossflow pattern technology to not only create waves but add additional crosscurrents in your tank.
Compared to traditional powerheads that flow in a single direction, the Gyre provides superior wave functionality. This type of crosscurrent helps virtually eliminate every dead zone in your tank. The 1K model is capable of handling tanks up to 36 inches in length.
If you need additional power or you are in an area that potentially loses power, Icecap also sells an external battery pack to ensure your water does not stagnate. The only downside is that the Gyre does produce a low hum or buzz, which can be a benefit depending on your views.
- The innovative technology helps eliminate dead zones in your tank.
- The 1K pump is capable of handling tanks up to 36 inches in length.
- Icecap sells an external battery pack to avoid stagnation during outages.
- The pump operates with a low hum which can be hypnotic to some people.
- The pump is bulkier than others we’ve featured.
- The maintenance of a crosscurrent pump is higher than standard pumps.
6. Jebao SOW Wave Maker Flow Pump - excellent pump
Claiming the #6 spot on our list is the Jebao SOW Wave Maker Flow Pump. This pump is one of the newest models of DC-powered pumps from Jebao. The most significant selling point of the SOW is the “Sine Wave” feature.
Sine Wave, if you’ve never heard of it before, is what helps convert DC (or direct current) power into a more stable power source for use in pumps. This also means it helps the pump generate far less noise than many AC-powered pumps available.The controller you get gives you plenty of options and includes an automatic feed mode. Jebao also offers a battery backup in case you’re in an area where power outages are an issue. These are a competitively priced DC pump, but you will want to make sure you get a warranty.
- The Sine Wave technology helps these pumps operate nearly silently.
- The included controller gives you plenty of options to choose from.
- The controller also features a feed mode.
- The price is lower than most other pumps we have featured.
- Jebao developed a reputation in the past for low-quality products; this may be different.
- You will want to order through a company that offers a warranty.
7. Maxspect XF330 Gyre Pump - Ideal For 25 - 100+ Gallon Aquariums
The Maxspect XF330 Gyre is a third-generation pump. The previous two iterations were well-received by aquarists around the world. The new generation of pump has been re-engineered to include less moving parts and make it easier to install.
The most significant upgrade you’re going to notice (if you have owned previous versions) is that the new gyre has a detachable flow valve. That means you can position your pump closer to the water’s surface in your tank, giving you more control over the wave-making action.Maxspect utilizes the CV6 controller to help you optimize the pump. CoralVue’s CV6 controller is one of the most significant upgrades to these pumps. If you own a previous version of this Gyre, you do not need to purchase a separate controller.
- The newest generation of XF330 pumps have an upgraded feature set.
- You can mount this Gyre higher than many other pumps we’ve featured.
- This is one of the quietest wave-making pumps currently available.
- The included CV6 controller is an excellent upgrade over past Gyre pumps.
- The price tag on this pump may force beginners to shy away.
- Compared to other Gyre pumps, this one is considered bulkier than usual.
8. Sicce Voyager 2 Power Stream Pump - circulation pump is very quiet
Sicce is a company that’s best known for manufacturing protein skimmers for saltwater tanks. Their pumps are highly regarded as some of the best built. Sicce’s new line of wavemakers is built using the same manufacturing processes and attention to detail as their skimmers.
The Voyager 2 Power Pumps have proven to provide a good feature set and fantastic reliability. This AC powered system helps eliminate many of the common failure points that other wavemakers are known to have.
Sicce has paired the Voyager 2 to their patented Wave Surfer controller to give you the same level of control that you get with DC wavemakers. The only downside to the Voyager 2 is the price tag but, being Italian engineering, you tend to get what you pay for.
- The Sicce is built using the finest Italian engineering and manufacturing processes.
- Being AC powered, the Voyager 2 is more reliable than most other pumps.
- Sicce’s Wave Surfer controller makes dialing in the pump easy to do.
- This pump is bulkier than most others; some aquarists have called it “ugly.”
- The price tag on the Voyager 2 is out of reach for many aquarists.
9. SUN JVP Series Submersible Powerhead - quiet and powerful
If your budget is smaller than most, the SUN JVP Powerhead is one of the best buys you’re going to find. This is, quite easily, one of the lowest-priced powerheads we will ever feature. It is still a mystery how SUN can release them so cheaply, but we’re not complaining.
The JVP Series of pumps are released in quite a few different versions. Depending on the size of your tank, it’s easy to find one that matches perfectly to your setup. Sometimes, you can even find a deal that offers multiple pumps in the same package, for the same low price.
Getting two pumps for the price of 1 is an excellent incentive for new aquarists. You never know when one could fail and waiting on another to show up can create huge issues for your water quality.
- This is, by far, one of the cheapest pumps we will ever feature.
- You can choose from multiple different gallon-per-hour pump variations.
- This is also one of the loudest pumps we have ever featured.
- The pumps use suction cups instead of magnets.
- The quality still hasn’t been proven.
10. Tunze USA Nano Stream Propeller Pump - quiet and good controller
If you’re willing to spend a bit more money to know that the wavemaker you are purchasing is going to last for the next ten years, or more, the Tunze USA Nano Stream Propeller Pump is precisely what you need.
Tunze is well-known as providing some of the highest quality products in the aquarium industry, ever. Their Nano Stream pump is no different. This is a near-silent operating pump that has proven to be reliable and well-manufactured.The Nano Stream comes equipped with a controller specific to itself. You can adjust the nozzle a full 180 degrees and have the option to choose between AC and DC-powered models. The only real downside to these pumps is that they are somewhat bulky and can be a distraction.
- This is, by far, the most reliable wavemaker we have featured on our list.
- The included controller gives you plenty of options to dial in power.
- You can adjust the wavemaker a full 180 degrees to eliminate dead zones.
- You can choose from both AC and DC-powered models.
- The Tunze Nano Stream is incredibly expensive; you get what you pay for.
What Are Wavemakers?
Fish will not remain stationary while they are in your tank. Nor will your water.
For your water to help your fish thrive, you will need to keep it moving from end to end.
Think about the natural habitat that your fish comes from. The water is usually moving, even if you cannot see the current. Your fish are accustomed to this movement and will adjust to it.
Wavemakers help keep your water flowing and create an undercurrent that prevents stagnation and debris or waste from settling.
What Types Of Aquarium Wave Makers Are Available?
Not all wavemakers are created equal. What works for one aquarium may not work for another.
To help you determine precisely what you need, the four main types of wavemakers are below.
powerheadsPowerheads are designed to move water at high-pressure rates but differ because they typically cannot be turned on an off. Sometimes, a diverter is used to help offset the higher flow associated with powerheads. These are useful for providing a smaller stream of pressurized water that can move over greater distances, in case you have a long tank.
Filtration pumps utilize high pressure to help overcome the resistance of your filter and bio balls or other media. The higher strength allows water to be forced through your filter media and circulated back out into the tank.
Circulation pumps differ from filtration pumps in that they do not have a media to force water through. Instead of using high pressure to push water through the foam blocks, circulation pumps will take water in through the inlet and push it out through the outlet. This constant flow creates circulation in your system, hence the name circulation pumps.
Wavemakers are specifically designed to utilize a high amount of water at lower pressure rates.
Coupled with digital controls to help regulate the behavior, a wavemaker can create current in your tank that doesn’t interfere with plants or creates debris when the flow of water hits your substrate.
Why Do I Need A Wavemaker?
This is one of the biggest questions we see, and one of the easiest to answer. To give the issue the justice it deserves, we have included a list of the most common reasons people buy wavemakers for their tanks.
eliminates dead zones
Dead zones are areas in your tank that do not have current flowing through them. These dead zones are breeding grounds for unhealthy bacteria and allow waste from your fish to begin building. Guaranteeing that you do not have weak spots in your tank requires moving water.
If you’re like so many other people, you probably started your tank to give yourself a new hobby.
It also helps that being able to sit and watch your tank after it has been constructed is incredibly tranquil. There’s a specific type of peace of mind that comes with sitting and watching moving fish and water.
A good wavemaker helps break up the monotony and adds a bit of beauty to every tank.
What Should I Consider Before Buying A Wavemaker?
We know that choosing the right equipment the first time is critical, especially if you are a beginner or you are working with a smaller budget.
Below is a list of the criteria we considered before making our recommendations for the best wavemakers and pumps in 2019.
If installing the wavemaker is too hard to do, you might get frustrated and throw in the towel.To make sure that your hobby is enjoyable, we looked at the ease of installation and made sure that the wavemakers we recommended were suitable for both beginner and experienced aquarists, alike.
Quality is critical. Low-quality equipment doesn’t work correctly, will quit working before you get your money’s worth, and could create hazardous situations in your tank.We’ve only recommended wavemakers that are from reputable manufacturers and ones that are constructed from high-quality materials.
Aquarium Wave Maker Frequently Asked Questions
Adding a wave maker to your tank may seem like a straightforward process, but we find most beginners end up having a ton of questions. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions to help make your buying decision easier to make.
Q: Is my wavemaker safe for marine environments?
As long as you are purchasing from a reputable manufacturer, you typically do not need to worry about whether your wavemaker is safe, or not. If you are buying a knockoff, you may find yourself having issues that could have been avoided.
One of the most common issues people face with their wavemaker is damaging the equipment and then wondering why it is creating a hazard. While a wavemaker isn’t necessarily a sensitive piece of equipment, handling it with care (since you’re installing electronics in water) is critical.
Q: Is my wavemaker powerful enough for my tank?
This is something you’ll need to compare based on your setup.
You can judge the power of the wavemaker and compare it against how many gallons you’re trying to move. If the wavemaker is too small for your more extensive setup, you’ll find there are dead zones that let debris buildup.
Most wavemakers will have a recommended rating on them to give you an idea of how many gallons of water they are designed to function with.
Q: Does a wavemaker create too much noise?
Noisy wavemakers may help put you to sleep, but, after a while, the noise will get annoying.
Some wavemakers are designed to be super-quiet while others will start out making zero noise and then begin to amplify as time goes on.
Investing in a quality wavemaker can help ensure you are getting one that won’t continuously vibrate against the glass of your tank.
Q: Are the magnets heavy enough?
The magnets that come with most wavemakers are strong enough to hold it in place and are usually designed to minimize vibration and noise.
However, if your glass is thicker than usual (15mm or thicker), you may find that you have a hard time keeping your wavemaker in place. Purchasing extra neodymium magnets can help secure it to your tank.
Q: Do I need to upgrade my wavemaker?
If you are upgrading your tank, especially the size of your tank, the chances are high that you will need to update your wavemaker, as well. If you are downsizing your tank, your existing wavemaker may be too intense for your new setup.
Properly sizing your wavemaker can help prevent a situation where you have too much current, or you are forcing your fish to work too hard.
Q: How long do they take to work?
The effects of installing a wavemaker in your system will be evident nearly immediately. However, for best results, you will want to wait at least 24 to 48 hours before you begin measuring the effects the new equipment is having on your aquascape.
Q: How often should I clean it?
Maintaining your equipment is critical to keeping it performing in tip-top shape. You will want to clean the wavemaker at least once every couple of months. This helps prevent the buildup of debris that could potentially damage the internals of your equipment.
Q: Will the electronics harm my fish?
Wavemakers are designed to be used in freshwater and saltwater environments. That means you do not have to worry about submerging the system into your tank, as long as you have purchased from a reputable manufacturer.
Q: Is the wavemaker big enough for my tank?
Before you purchase a new model, make sure you have verified the size of your tank and compared it to the recommended specifications on the wavemaker. There will be a general size recommendation based on the equipment you’ve purchased.
Q: Expensive vs. cheap, what’s the difference?
While a cheaper piece of equipment may seem better upfront, you will quickly realize that the pumps aren’t nearly as powerful.
Cheaper pumps also tend to quit working sooner, which means you will end up buying another one. Adding up the costs of replacing them means that you could have saved money, buying a slightly more expensive model in the beginning.
Q: Can I control my wavemaker wirelessly?
Some models are built to be used with external software to help monitor the system. If you want wireless controls, you should expect to pay more for the equipment than you will for a pump with fewer features.
Q: Magnets or suction cups, which is better?
This is a personal decision. In general, suction cups will help dampen the vibrations and minimize the noise being produced by your pump. Magnets will hold better, though.
If you are buying a powerful pump, you will want to use a combination of both magnets and suction cups. Many pumps come with both options out of the box.
Q: Are automatic settings a requirement?
This is something you’ll want to think about while you are planning your maintenance schedule.
If you are automating other parts of your maintenance, having automated features built into your wavemaker could be beneficial for you. However, if you enjoy doing the maintenance yourself, the automation could add to the price tag and take away from your experience.
Q: Is the cord going to be long enough?
Before buying, take a minute to measure the distance from your outlet or power strip to the inside of your aquarium. Knowing this distance and comparing it to the specification provided by the manufacturer will help you determine if the cord will be long enough.
Q: Is one wavemaker going to be enough?
The answer to this question depends significantly on the size and shape of your tank. For most people, a single wavemaker should be sufficient. However, if you have an extensive aquascape or a longer tank, you may need multiple wavemakers.
If you purchase one and find out that it isn’t enough, purchasing a second to install isn’t a major dealbreaker. This beats buying one that is too powerful and can’t be dialed back.
Q: In-tank or external? Which is better?
This depends on the amount of space you have available inside of the tank. If you have a large tank with a significant amount of space available, an in-tank setup may work for you.
However, if you are trying to conserve space inside of the tank, purchasing a wavemaker that sits on top of the tank could be a better decision.
Q: How much power is required?
The manufacturer will list the amount of power required to operate your new pump on the specifications sheet. Most pumps require between 8 watts to 30 watts of power.
Q: Should I get a pivoting wavemaker?
If you require a specific flow rate that moves water throughout your tank, a pivoting wavemaker will be a better buy. If you have a large number of plants or rocks, purchasing a pivoting wavemaker can help get water around the obstructions more easily.
Q: Will my fish get stuck in it?
Unless you are speaking specifically about small fry or newborn fish, you do not have to worry about your livestock getting stuck in your pump.
Q: Should the cable be in the tank?
For the most part, your cable will be ran outside of the tank. However, manufacturers know that your cord may end up inside the tank and have taken precautions to ensure it is safe.
As long as your equipment is not damaged, you do not need to worry about your cord or cable being located inside of the water.
Q: Should it be creating bubbles?
All aquariums can benefit from having bubbles injected into the water. These bubbles help deliver oxygen into the water. Smaller bubbles carry more oxygen than larger bubbles.
If your wavemaker isn’t producing enough bubbles for your liking, you can purchase an additional aerator or oxygenation pump to supplement the number of bubbles being generated.
So What’s The Best Aquarium Wave Maker In 2019?After going through countless different wavemakers, we have settled in and decided that the Current USA eFlux Wavemaker is one of the best deals for your money in 2019. If you have the budget available, the Tunze USA Nano Stream is the most reliable we have ever seen.
Affiliate links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Last update on 2019-12-08.
Top Editor's Choice on Wave Makers
Subscribe to our Newsletter!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest tips and news of our blog.