Pond Pump Buying Guide

Deciding on a pond pump can be a confusing process, yet is important for the sake of your pond’s fish, beauty, and electric usage.

Pond pumps have the ability to power both waterfalls and fountains as well as create circulation. To maximize the performance, it is important to choose the correct mixture of pump and fountain head, otherwise your pond may end up with insufficient circulation and lead to an unhealthy pond that is low in oxygen.

When selecting a pond pump, water capacity in gallons should be considered. Your pond water should be recirculated by a pump that has a flow rate large enough to recirculate all of the water at least once every two hours. For example, a 300 gallon pond would require a minimum rated pump of 150 gallons per hour. The above guide is only a starting point because aesthetic appeal needs to be considered as well.

If you want a large, dramatic waterfall with stream, for example, then the pump will need to be sized accordingly (and the tubing diameter as well).

Some key factors to have in mind before deciding on what pump to purchase:

  • The size of your pond, small or large? Calculate length x width x average depth x 7.5 to determine gallons of water held.
  • Filtration or waterfall/fountain power? How long, how tall and how wide is the waterfall, for example?
  • Are fish and/or plants going to be living in your pond?
  • What type of fish will be stocked in the pond? Koi require larger pumps because they need plenty of filtration and water oxygenation to be healthy.

After figuring the specifics of your pond and deciding what effect you want, picking out the correct type of pump should be a much clearer decision. Here are the different types of pumps that are offered:


These kinds of pumps are easy to install, and like the name suggests, are designed to be fully submerged into the deepest part of your pond. Works great in natural settings since it is not necessary to camouflage the pump.

Another characteristic of submersible pumps is that they do not produce a lot of noise, so your water garden will remain tranquil.

Also, these pumps can:

  • be used to drain your pond.
  • be placed directly into a pond, skimmer box, or a pond vault.
  • range in size from 50 to 12,000 gallons per hour.
  • Be more economical for smaller ponds.

Direct Drive Pumps

Ideal for long runs and high pumping heights, direct drive pumps are powerful and achieve significant head height, making them great for large waterfalls and fountains.

Factors to consider:

  • Some older direct drive pumps are still oil-filled which can put fish at risk of contamination if leaking occurs.
  • Normally more expensive to operate than magnetic drive pumps.
  • Instead of pulling water, pushes it.
  • Don’t have replaceable impellers.
  • But are a great choice for ponds that need high levels of aeration or dramatic, large waterfalls.

External Pumps

External pumps are more cost efficient over time than submersible pumps and are still capable of moving large volumes of water. Although more reliable, external pumps can be noisy and distracting. Make sure to install a check valve to non self priming pumps so they do not burn out the motor if the power shuts off and then turns back on.

  • Ideal for larger ponds, 5,000 gallons and more.
  • Easily repaired.
  • Less routine maintenance than submersible pumps.

Magnetic Drive Pumps

Powered by an electrical charge that creates a magnetic field, the impeller of the magnetic drive will rotate and pump water. These pumps are one of the safest pump solutions for your fish, as they do not contain oil, eliminating the risk of contamination from the pump.

  • Cost effective operation that is also highly efficient.
  • They require little maintenance because they are completely sealed.
  • The Impeller can easily be replaced in many models.

After deciding the type of pump that is best for your pond, you then need to determine the specifics of that pump, for instance:

  • What size hoses will it require?
  • Best pre-filter solution to protect your pump?
  • What cord length do you need?