Top 9 Powerheads for Saltwater Aquariums

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Powerheads are water pumps of various sizes and capacities which can be completely submersed in water. Powerheads are used in saltwater aquariums to move water around in the tank as well as between the tank and a number of pieces of equipment (i.e. protein skimmers). Powerheads are primarily used to duplicate the water movement (surface waves and surge or swell) in the oceans.

Not all aquarium powerheads are created equal. Although there are only a few units suitable for running wavemakers, there...MORE are many that have a lot of lifting power that are suited for using with protein skimmers or as a water pump, while others work best for UGF enhancement, if attachments are included. Most all can be used for generating water movement and circulation in aquariums, but taking the time to compare maintenance requirements, cost, features, and GPH rates will help you make a wise choice.

  • 01 of 09
    AquaClear Powerheads

    Hagen's AquaClear Powerheads are true workhorses. These are very well constructed, epoxy filled units which seem to last forever. Two of the models offer a reverse flow feature.

  • 02 of 09
    Hydor Koralia Powerhead. PriceGrabber

    These fully submersible water pumps revitalize hard-to-access "dead spots" in your aquarium. Magnetic base with articulating ball joint allows a full, 360-degree range of convenient pump positions. Directs water movement to areas of your aquarium never possible with conventional powerheads. Patented propeller design generates water flow that is both powerful and delicate. Suction cup and magnet mounting system measures 2-3/4" diameter and is suitable for aquarium glass up to 1/2"...MORE thick. Available in flow rates from 240 gph to 3,250 gph.

  • 03 of 09
    Hydor Pico Evo-Mag Circulation Pump
    Hydor Pico Evo-Mag Circulation Pump. Photo by PriceGrabber
    The Hydor Pico Evo-Mag Circulation Pump was specifically designed for small nano aquarium systems. This powerhead installs inside the tank and is secured in place with an outside-the-glass magnet. The magnet-suction cup base with articulating ball joint allows directional flow anywhere along a 360-degree axis.
  • 04 of 09
    Maxi-Jet Powerheads
    Users have found that the Maxi-Jets by Aquarium Systems are not only excellent units for any aquarium job, but they are one of the few powerhead pumps that can withstand the constant on/off strain of being used with wave making devices.
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    Penguin Powerheads
    Penguin brand powerheads from Marineland are known in the aquarium industry as being well built units that can give many years of good use. With the use of the sponge filter, and the addition of the optional reverse flow feature, these units will drive a UGF system, allowing only filtered water to enter the gravel.
  • 06 of 09
    Rio Aqua Pumps/Powerheads

    From Taam, Inc., Rio Aqua Pumps/Powerheads are well constructed, delivering high pressure water for most tank functions. Though often used with protein skimmers, they should not be used for constant on/off functions, such as for operating wavemakers or oscillating devices.

  • 07 of 09
    Turbelle Powerheads & Pumps

    Tunze has an amazing line of powerheads, circulation pumps, electronic controllers and other devices to meet an aquarist's needs. Primarily designed with high efficiency and aquarium care in mind, Tunze's Turbelle brand pumps have various features, but all are quiet and easy to maintain, equipped with low heat emission and power consumption motors, and one of the most appealing features is they can be mounted on an aquarium with Tunze's patented magnetic holder. With too many other...MORE great functions to list here, visit to learn more about these and the many other aquarium products this company makes.

  • 08 of 09
    Azoo Powerheads
    Azoo Powerheads. Courtesy of

    Azoo Powerheads are available in 5 sizes with water flow ratings from 48 to 660 gallons per hour. These economically priced powerheads are equipped with a durable plastic impeller that produces very good water circulation. Each powerhead includes a detachable air pipe to increase efficient gas exchange in your aquarium, The suction cup mounts make them adaptable to many applications, including filters and fountains.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Cobalt International Multi-Purpose Powerhead Pumps

    Cobalt International Powerheads
    Cobalt International Powerheads. Courtesy of

    Cobalt International  Multi-Purpose Powerhead Pumps are high quality pumps which are manufactured in Italy. These multi-purpose pumps great for use with wave makers, protein skimmers, calcium reactors, nano aquariums, undergravel filters and any application where reliable water movement or circulation is essential.