Best Powerheads & Wavemakers of 2023 - Best In Flow!
Most Popular Powerhead of 2023
As voted by all of you, the AquaIlluminatino Nero 3 is officially the most popular pump on our website based on the number of units sold in 2023. For many years, the EcoTech Marine Vortech MP40 has dominated this particular category and still remains the runner-up. So which should you choose?
The best choice is made when you consider the right tool for the job. The Nero 3 is a much smaller, entry-level pump that is great for tanks up to about 30 gallons maximum while the MP40 pushes a whopping 4000 GPH and can be used on tanks from 50 to 150+ gallons.
Best for LPS Corals
The unique design and flow output of the Gyre style pumps makes them well suited for LPS-dominated aquariums. The flat laminar flow these pumps produce will travel long distances without creating intense zones of flow that are much too harsh for fleshy corals.
Best Value Gyre Pump
A no-frills gyre pump with everything you need and nothing you don't. Built by Maxspect, the Jump Gyre pumps do not stray from the functional gyre design and you can expect to get all of the unique flow benefits without the cost of wireless controllers.
Best All-Around Gyre Pump
The latest edition of the flagship XF Series Gyre Pump, the Cloud Edition introduces a whole new dimension with directional cages and cloud-based app control.
Best Performing Powerhead During Power Outages
For longevity and ease of use, the Vortech with Battery Backup couldn't be simpler. Just plug your Vortechs into the battery using the included cables and the battery will remain charged so long as it's connected to power using the included charger/adapter. When power is lost, the battery automatically kicks on and will keep your Vortechs spinning at a reduced rate for up to 80 hours!
Best Low-Profile Powerheads
In either case, you will probably be surprised at just how small these pumps are. Both fit in the palm of your hand and will easily blend into your aquarium without creating an eyesore. The Nero 3 certainly takes the cake in terms of slim profile but the Sicce SDC has the benefit of amiability making them much more versatile.
Most Aimable Powerheads
Favored by veteran reef aquarists, Tunze was the first aquarium company to really put effort into producing efficient powerheads designed for moving water around corals. There are more models than you can count on two hands and no matter what size tank or what the application is, there is probably a Tunze Stream pump that will fit the bill.
Best Wide Angle Powerheads
Designed specifically for moving a wide stream of water, the 6095 is a beast! It's only about the size of a baseball, pulls a maximum of just 21 watts, and can accommodate tanks upwards of 200 gallons.
Best Entry-Level Powerhead
There are x4 different models to choose from that are all priced under $100 and you get a German-made pump from one of the best aquarium pump manufacturers there is. Being AC pumps, you don't get the benefit of speed control but you can easily hook multiple pumps up to a timer to create varied flow patterns.
Best Pump for Behind The Rocks
The slender design and flat output of the Gyre make them perfectly suited for pushing a sheet of water along tank walls. They can be mounted vertically too so you can easily tuck one in the back left or right corner of your tank to move water along the back wall. The 6040 Nanostream is somewhat of a nano reefer's secret - the unique flow-deflector and magnet mount orientation make these tiny pumps perfect for pushing water around rocks in small aquariums.
Best Pump for Bottom Mounting and On The Back Wall
When mounting pumps deep or near the bottom panel, it doesn't get much better than a Vortech. With no wires to run inside the display aquarium, you can pretty much mount these pumps anywhere without creating an obstruction.
Best Powerhead for Difficult To Reach Areas
What makes the Stream pumps unique is the ball and socket design which gives you almost a full 360° of amiability. The strong magnet mount will secure the pump cradle to any wall of the aquarium and you can then position the pump to move water exactly where you want it and not have to worry about it falling or moving out of place.
Easiest To Maintain Powerhead
Hands down the easiest approach to keeping your pump clean and in working order. Simply keep a spare wet side on hand at all times, remove the old dirty wet side for cleaning, and replace it with the clean one. There is no downtime and the swap can be done in a matter of seconds - simply switch off the pump, detach the dry side motor, remove the wet side, and then re-attach the new wet side.