When you’re planning on how to keep your fish pond or outdoor water garden in tip-top shape, with crystal clear, healthy water, choosing the right pump should be high on your list.
With all of the different types of pumps available, though, choosing the right one for your specific situation can be incredibly challenging to do. Many pond owners find themselves frustrated at the sheer amount of options available.
Our mission is to help you cut through the frustration and find a pump that works well for your pond while also saving you time, money, and eliminating your concerns.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide. We’ve made it our goal to help you find the best external fish pond pumps available so you can spend more time enjoying your pond and less time sifting through customer reviews on sites like Amazon.
Best External Pond Pump Reviews
To help with your mission of finding the best pump for your specific situation, we have poured through hundreds of different pumps. We’ve compared each with our own experience and reviews from customers just like us.
Below is a list of the seven best external pond pumps you can find today.
If your pond has a water feature, such as a stream or waterfall, the Little Giant Direct Drive Waterfall Pump is a fantastic option. It is designed to move 4,280 gallons-per-hour with a 16-foot long cord that makes it easy to install.
This pump is capable of moving water up to 30 feet into the air, which makes it incredibly versatile for designing your streams and waterfalls or fountains. The dual-discharge on this pump can even operate up to two different water features simultaneously.
Pros & Cons
Did You Know?
If you operate multiple water features, you want to ensure your pump has dual outlets with enough power to move the water to your feature while also maintaining proper filtration.
2. Tetra Pond Debris-Handling Pump - Clog Free Performance
Tetra Pond is well-known for high-quality manufacturing products that are affordable for most budgets. The Tetra Pond Debris-Handling pump is a prime example of what can be purchased when you’re on a strict budget while still looking for quality equipment.
This pump is designed for ponds ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 gallons in size and can be used with water features and waterfalls up to 13 feet high. The internal ceramic shaft resists corrosion to help give the pump a longer, more maintenance-free life.
Pros & Cons
Did You Know?
Make sure you are buying a pump that is powerful enough to maintain adequate pressure through your filtration system while also moving enough water for your waterfall or fountain.
3. Little Giant Dual Discharge Waterfall Pump - Unique dual-discharge design
Another powerful direct-drive pump, the Little Giant Dual Discharge Waterfall Pump is designed to move up to 1,900 gallons-per-hour. The pump features a 16-foot long cord, which helps make it easier to install and position in your aquascape.
The pump can move water up to 20 feet into the air, giving you more than enough power for a waterfall, a fountain, or other types of water features. If you have a pond smaller than 1,000 gallons in size, the Little Giant Dual Discharge Waterfall Pump could be a good choice.
Pros & Cons
Did You Know?
Avoid skimping on quality to save money. Most of the pumps featured on our list have found a balance between quality and price. Cheaper options may break easily.
4. TotalPond 1200 GPH Waterfall Pump - ideal for small waterfalls
The TotalPond 1,200 GPH Pump is excellent for smaller ponds with shorter water features. It is designed to be used in waterfalls that are shorter than 5 feet high. The pump is a powerful direct-drive system that utilizes a wet bearing arrangement.
The pump can move large amounts of water while maintaining incredible energy efficiency, making it one of the most reliable pumps we have found. This unit features a shield in front of the inlet to help keep debris from clogging it up.
Pros & Cons
Did You Know?
Buying a pump with a manufacturer’s warranty is a great way to save money. If something happens with the pump, the manufacturer will typically replace the unit free of cost to you.
5. TetraPond Water Garden Pump - Energy efficient
Another great unit from Tetra Pond is the Water Garden Pump. The unit is designed with an internal magnetic drive, which makes it perfect for beginner pond keepers. It flows enough water to power a small waterfall or fountain, depending on your needs.
With TetraPond being focused on quality and affordability, this is one of the most attractively priced pumps we’ve featured. You can choose the power for your pond ranging in size from 50-gallons up to 1,500 gallons.
Pros & Cons
Did You Know?
Before purchasing a pump, ensure that the manufacturer’s warranty covers the entire cost of replacing a pump if it is defective or broken. Sometimes, manufacturers will make you pay for shipping and receiving the new unit.
6. Aqua Pulse 550 Water Garden Pump - energy saving efficiency
The Aqua Pulse 550 Submersible Water Garden Pump is designed with energy efficiency in mind. It is capable of flowing up to 10,000 gallons-per-hour, depending on the size of your pond and the number of water features you need to power.
The unit features overheating protection that will disable itself should it begin to overheat while operating. It’s a variable speed design that can flow more water at lower pressures or less water at higher pressures, depending on your needs.
Pros & Cons
Did You Know?
Maintaining your pump is critical to keeping it operating at peak efficiency. If it is routinely getting clogged, you may need to add a filtration system inline to prevent debris from clogging it up.
7. Hydrofarm Active Aqua Water Pump - Simple To Install
The Hydrofarm Active Aqua Water Pump may be the last on our list, but it is still an excellent pump for beginner pond keepers. It is extremely powerful and incredibly quiet, making it well-suited for a wide variety of ponds and water features.
The unit uses 92 watts of power, making it one of the most energy-efficient pumps we have featured. It’s compact design is easy to hide among your aquascape to avoid creating distractions and taking away from your design and aesthetics.
Pros & Cons
Did You Know?
When you are planning on assembling your water garden and features, consider the noise of the pump that you’re going to buy. If it’s too loud, it could become a distraction and take away from the peaceful scenery you are trying to create.
Are External Pond Pumps Better?
- External pond pump parts
- Variable speed pond pump
- Waterfall pump
It’s a fact that most pond keepers and water garden builders prefer a submersible pump over an external pump. Submersible pumps are usually easier to install, which is why we generally recommend them to most beginners.
However, external pond pumps still have their very distinct advantages, especially if you have built a larger pond or plan on keeping more significant numbers of fish. Some of the biggest benefits that external pumps have over submersible pumps are listed below.
External pumps save more energy than submersible pumpsOne of the most significant advantages that external pumps have over their submersible brethren is that they are far more energy-efficient than submersible pumps. The difference in your monthly energy bills isn’t going to be massive, but you will notice a difference.
This is especially true with larger ponds. If you have a pond with more than 8,000 gallons of water, you will begin to notice a significant difference between an external pump and a submersible pump.
The energy efficiency of a well-made external pond pump will more than make up for the difference in price over the course of a few years. For ponds under 1,000 gallons in size, you may not necessarily see a difference, but the pump will still be more energy-efficient.
External pumps have more potential for your pondExternal pumps can flow more water than submersible pumps. That’s a given. However, external pumps are also able to remain more energy efficient while flowing higher volumes of water. They come with a higher level of customization, too.
An external pond pump does not have the same limits that submersible pond pumps have so that you can use them in ponds of all sizes. Submersible pumps are, in general, designed to be used in ponds that are smaller than 10,000 gallons in size.
As you’re required to move more significant amounts of water at higher pressure levels, the pump is going to need to work harder to meet the demands being placed on it. As your volume requirements increase, the amount of power required to move that water increases, too.
External pond pumps do not face these issues because they sit above the water’s surface level so that the flow ratings can be significantly higher for the same (or less) energy. Many external pond pumps are rated using the horsepower model instead of the standard gallons-per-hour.
That means the external pumps are rated at higher power levels and can easily be adjusted down, allowing you to purchase more pump than you need for the same price as a similar submersible model.
External pumps are easier to clean and maintainAnother benefit and probably one of the greatest you’ll find is that external fish pond pumps are significantly easier to clean and maintain. Since the pumps are located outside of your pond, accessing them for maintenance is simple to do.
You’re not going to find yourself wading through the water, fighting through floating debris, or risking damaging your plumbing and electrical wiring while trying to get to the pump. With an external pump, everything you need to access is right in front of you.
Because external pumps are not always surrounded by floating debris, you also do not have to worry about them getting clogged with the same floating debris. Instead, the debris makes its way into the filtration system, rather than your pump.
If maintaining your filtration system and the pump is low down on your list of favorite hobbies, an external pump is going to be a blessing in disguise. When you want to keep your maintenance schedule to a minimum, external pumps are the best choice you can make.
How To Choose Right Right External Fish Pond Pump
Whether you’re looking for a 5,000 GPH external pond pump or something significantly smaller, like a 500 GPH external pond pump, there are certain factors you’re going to need to consider.
We’ve used each of those factors to help us while building our list of the best pond pumps above. Each will determine the size, type, and style pump you need for the kind of pond you’ve built and your end-goal for what you’re looking to achieve.
Energy ConsumptionThe amount of energy your pump consumes is going to determine the size of your electricity bills each month. As your pond grows in size, the amount of electricity being used significantly increases with each additional jump in the flow rate on the pump.
Higher quality external pumps are going to be designed for higher levels of energy efficiency than lower quality pumps. In general, the more you spend on the pump, the more access you’re going to get to technology that improves the efficiency of your pump.
Understanding a pump’s rated wattage requirements will help you dial in exactly what the pump is going to cost you to operate. Lower wattage ratings require less power and will reduce your monthly electricity bills.
Variable FlowSome of the external pumps you’ll come across will offer a feature called variable flow. This feature isn’t usually found on submersible pumps. It’s a feature that dramatically improves how you’re able to use your pump and save on your energy costs while you do it.
Some pumps will only feature two different settings, either a high setting or a low setting. Other pumps will allow you a full range of control that is adjustable via a knob or flow control valve. If you are looking for a high-end model, you may get full digital control over the pump’s flow rate.
While having control over your pump’s flow isn’t necessarily a requirement, many consider it a bonus that opens up new opportunities and ways to save energy. You can use the flow control to more accurately dial in power being delivered to your water features.
To give you an example, you can increase the power of your pump during the warmer summer months when your fish require more oxygen. During the warmer months, the oxygen levels in your pond will be reduced.
On the other hand, during the colder months, you can dial the power back to conserve energy while letting nature supply more oxygen to the colder water. Fish spend less time moving around during the cooler months, so they do not require the same amount of circulation.
If you want to save money while still having control over the flow rate of your pump, you can also install a ball valve inline with the pump. This ball valve will let you dial in the pressure and flow of the pump and often costs less than pumps with variable controls built into them.
Lower powered pumps will operate on 115 volts, while higher-powered pumps will require 230 volts. For larger ponds, operating at 230 volts will reduce your energy costs by allowing the pump to work at increased efficiency.
Smaller ponds, between 1,000 to 5,000 gallons in size will typically use pumps rated for 115 volts of power. However, you will need to look at the wiring you’re able to run to the pump’s installation site before you make the purchase.
If you only have 115 volts running to the installation site, you may be required to install 230-volt wiring to support the larger pump. This could be a massive investment on your part if you don’t already have the ability to handle 230-volt pumps.
When you’re comparing both types, instead of comparing voltage requirements, focus your efforts on the gallons-per-hour rating. It’s always going to cost less to operate a more powerful 230-volt pump at a lower gallon-per-hour rating than a 115-volt pump at the same rating.
Suction vs. Self-PrimingYou’re going to see two more features while looking at different external pumps. The first is a flooded suction pump, and the second is a self-priming pump. The type you choose could affect the price tag you’re going to pay.
Pumps will require being primed before you are able to use them. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it means filling their internal compartments with water so they can efficiently flow more water through the inlet.
Without priming your pump, you are going to be attempting to move air instead of water. Physics will keep water from entering the pump. Without having water inside the pump, it could overheat and live a short lifespan.
Self-priming pumps will prime themselves, as the name implies, while suction pumps will require being primed before using them. Self-priming pumps are typically more expensive than suction pumps, but they’re also less work to get up and running.
When you’re looking at external pumps, you’re going to encounter two different types: high head heights with a powerful flow rating and low head heights with a stronger flow rating.
The difference between each type of pump and which one you should choose greatly depends on how you intend to install the pump in your pond.
External pumps that utilize lower head heights are perfect for keeping your water circulating through the system but are not usually able to power water features, such as waterfalls. This is true even for the smallest water features. They will put the pump under too much stress.
Pumps that utilize a higher head height with a stronger flow rating are a better choice if you’re trying to move large amounts of water through multiple water features. If you’re planning on installing a fountain or a waterfall, for instance, the higher head height and higher flow rating will provide enough pressure to keep your water features flowing without stressing the pump.
What Is The Best External Pond Pump?
After extensive research, we have found that the best external pond pump for most pond keepers is the Little Giant Direct Drive Waterfall Pump. It’s powerful, quiet, energy-efficient, and built to last with a warranty that keeps your investment safe.
Affiliate links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Last update on 2021-02-27.
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