Best of Return Pumps
Best of Return Pumps

Having the proper flow and water turnover rate is one of the most crucial aspects of setting up an aquarium for success. What once was a relatively easy choice to make has become a market saturated with a plethora of return pump options. While this may be overwhelming for entry level hobbyists, the large amount of entrants to the marketplace has allowed for the innovation of pumps that can be used in any variety of aquarium systems. Within this article we will highlight our picks for some of the best return pumps on the market for a plethora of popular tank types.

Each of the pumps we will discuss come from proven, reliable, and easy to contact manufacturers who have been producing pumps for years. We will first take a look at a pump choice for a nano reef and one for those who are needing Neptune Apex compatibility. Then, we will discuss a recommendation for very large aquariums and one for the hobbyist on a budget. Finally, we will select a return pump for the tech enthusiast. With so many aquarium pump options on the market, we can’t highlight all of the ones that may be a good choice for your system. If you have any questions or if you are looking for a specific recommendation, our customer care team would be happy to assist you. 

Summary

Our choice for the Nano Reef: Innovative Marine MightyJet DC Return Pump

The best selection for Neptune Apex compatibility: Neptune Systems COR Return Pumps

Our recommendation for the biggest of aquariums: Abyzz A Series Controllable DC Pumps

Our top pick on a budget: Sicce Syncra Silent Aquarium Pump Series     

A great option for the tech enthusiast: Ecotech Vectra DC Aquarium Water Pumps

Our choice for the Nano Reef: Innovative Marine MightyJet DC Return Pump   

Innovative Marin Mighty Jet Return Pumps
Innovative Marin Mighty Jet Return Pumps

Innovative Marine has been the manufacturer to beat for many years when it comes to their nano aquariums. Their new MightyJet DC return pumps are the perfect controllable option for any small tank. These pumps are designed to fit into the tightest of spaces while not compromising on their controllability and power. Two size options of 326 gallons per hour and 538 gallons per hour allow for the aquarist to select exactly which model suits their needs.  A full controller allows for the ability to adjust the output and mode to create a flow pattern that corals will love. This pump also features a feed mode which will allow you to nourish your tank inhabitants without the food being blown all over the place. For each of these features, the MightyJet is our pick for one of the best return pumps for a nano reef. 

The best selection for Neptune Apex compatibility: Neptune Systems COR Return Pumps

Neptune COR Return Pump
Neptune COR Return Pump

Remote controllability and automation has taken over the aquarium scene and Neptune Systems has been at the epicenter of this movement with their APEX units. Neptune has created their COR return pumps to work hand in hand with their beloved controllers. Both the COR-15 and COR-20 are very quiet and energy efficient. With that being said, only the COR-20 can be operated without an APEX controller. In terms of power, you can expect 1,500 GPH and 2,000 GPH for the COR-15 and COR-20 respectively. Even with these high outputs, these pumps allow for detailed control over the Apex fusion interface. Having your return pump as part of your remote controllability can give you the incredible benefit of increased security in case of an emergency. For these reasons. The COR pumps from Neptune are our pick for one of the best return pumps for APEX compatibility.   

Our recommendation for the biggest of aquariums: Abyzz A Series Controllable DC Pumps

Abyzz A Series Pumps
Abyzz A Series Pumps

For the aquarists with even the most massive of tanks, we have an excellent return pump option for you with the Abyzz A Series. This series features the A200 with 4,400 GPH and the A400 with 6,060 GPH. These pumps are fully controllable through their included controllers and will be able to work on aquariums as large as 1,000 gallons. While this pump may seem like a large investment, an incredible feature of these systems are that they include a 10 year manufacturer warranty. Additionally, these pumps feature metal pump shafts that make them extremely durable and much less prone to frequent maintenance. The combination of all of these attributes makes the Abyzz A Series Pumps our choice for one of the best return pumps for your large aquariums. 

Our top pick on a budget: Sicce Syncra Silent Aquarium Pump Series  

Sicce Syncra Silent Return Pumps
Sicce Syncra Silent Return Pumps

Sicce has long been producing some of the most reliable, quiet, and budget friendly pumps and their Syncra Silent line is their best series yet. These pumps have been refined over the years to be one of the top picks for any system. This series comes in a variety of sizes that can be selected based on the volume of your system. Regardless of which pump is picked, it will be energy efficient and won’t cost you an arm and a leg on your electricity bill. Another excellent feature of this pump is the fact that each model will include multiple output fittings to make the pump compatible with your pre-existing plumbing. While these units are mainly designed for return pumps, they can also be used for other applications such as being placed in a fountain or on a protein skimmer. For the previous reasoning, the Sicce Syncra Silent series is our choice for the best return pump on a budget.

A great option for the tech enthusiast: Ecotech Vectra DC Aquarium Water Pumps    

Ecotech Vectra Series Return Pump
Ecotech Vectra Series Return Pump

The original Ecotech Vectra series was one of our best selling return pumps for a number of years. Now, Ecotech has further improved these pumps and released a second iteration of the Vectra to keep even more hobbyists thrilled with their return pump. This pump comes in three sizes and can be fully controlled though both the included controller as well as Ecotech’s new Mobius platform. In addition to being able to control the output, Ecotech also offers multiple modes of flow that will allow the pump to create a specific type of environment that you may desire for your aquarium. Since this pump is now mobius compatible, it can be controlled remotely along with any of Ecotech’s dosing pumps, powerheads, or LED lights. This is an incredible feature for added security should there ever be any potential issues with your aquarium. For their ability to be controlled remotely and accurately, the Ecotech Vectra DC pumps are our choice for the best return pumps on the market for the tech enthusiast. 

Final Thoughts:

Selecting a proper return pump is one of the most important decisions to make when entering the planning stages of building your aquarium. Your return pump will be responsible for both the efficiency of your filtration and the amount of direct flow within the display. Flow is one of the most crucial factors when it comes to keeping corals growing and healthy along with maximizing the effectiveness of your filtration. Each of the presented return pumps are reliable, effective and capable of keeping your system flowing given the proper size is selected. Choosing a return pump is something that can be done on a tank by tank basis and our customer care team would be happy to assist you in that process. Ultimately, a return pump is the heart of your aquarium and selecting the proper one is the most important decision you can make in positioning yourself for sustained hobby success.