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Best Aquarium Wave Makers
Our aquarium inhabitants need to feel as natural as possible. This is why we use a variety of products and devices.
For example, the right reef salt provides nutrients for corals and fish that help keep their tank water balanced.
To prevent fish from getting sick, the right filter will remove nutrients and debris.
Then there’s theBest wave makersThey’re great for aquariums, and especially for helping to maintain the environment’s natural water flow.
Best wave maker for Aquarium
Since I began my career in aquarists, technology has advanced a lot. There were powerheads that distributed a steady stream of water through your aquarium’s water column.
These items are now called wavemakers, which provide a larger and more powerful stream for water in your aquarium. You can even get DC-powered wavemakers with lots of control options and lower power consumption.
Many manufacturers have launched their own wavemakers. But which one is the best?
There are many wavemakers. There are so many wavemakers. This post will hopefully help you decide which wavemaker is best for your aquarium.
For great water flow, quiet wave makers are a must
I was a novice to aquariums when I started. I wasn’t able to grasp the concept of wavemakers.
Is it really worth spending money on something that is pointless? My tank won’t have any surfers, so thank you but no thanks.
Some patient veterans pointed out that powerhead units and wave makers are beneficial in many ways and should be a regular part any aquarium.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Wavemaker (Our Criterion)
Finding the right wavemaker can be difficult. I’ve compiled a list with the top wavemakers on the market using these criteria:
- Price : Wavemakers can be very affordable or extremely expensive depending on their price.
- Warranty : A reliable manufacturer backs up its wavemakers with a solid warranty
- Durability : What are their field-tested stories? Are they reliable? Do they stop working after 6 months or years? Are they easy to break?
- Safety : This is not a problem with AC-powered wavemakers as they have their own power supply. Make sure that the power supply is water tight at the connection point. Also, ensure that the unit is either ETL or ULC rated. ETL and UL ratings ensure that your insurance covers any accident that might occur.
Review of the Best Aquarium Wave Makers
We now know what to look out for so let’s focus our attention on some possible prospects.
1. Jebao OW and Controller for Marine Reef Aquarium
Jebao OW Wavemakers is the most recent version of their wavemaker series of flow pump.
The Jebao OW water pumps were originally designed to be used in reef aquariums containing corals. They can also be used in planted aquariums.
This latest upgrade to the line features a switch from 2-pole magnet impellers (to 2-pole) to 4-pole units. The pump will be quieter, increase torque, and water flow while maintaining its small size.
In the motor housing of previous models, electronic control components were present. They’ve been moved to the external controller with the OW series.
A magnetic through-the glass mount holds the water pumps in place. The OW series allows you to rotate the water pumps more freely and can aim for the flow output.
There are eight pre-programmed flow rate options for the pump. Each pump can be controlled individually or linked to the wireless controller to synchronize multiple pumps and flow patterns.
The pump’s flow rate is slowed by the automatic “night-time sensor”. Easy feeding is made easier by a 10-minute feeding timer. Wave pattern modes are also available that replicate reef wave action.
There are four models available to fit nano reef tanks and larger marine aquariums.
- OW-10: 132-156 GPH Dimensions: 3.25′” x 2.25′”.
- OW-25: 184-2245 Dimensions: 3.74′” x 2.75’’ Diameter
- OW-40: 317-33962, Dimensions 4.52” x 3.4” Diameter
- OW-50: 449-52283 Dimensions: 3.70″ x 5.72″ Diameter
- Design of 4-pole impeller improved.
- Wireless control
- Multi-pump control.
- Pre-programmed flow rates or modes.
- To reduce costs, budget build quality
- Some pumps can be noisy straight out of the box.
- It remains to be seen if the reliability will last long-term.
2. Hydor Koralia Evolution Circulation pump
Over the last few years, three major redesigns have been made to the Koralia Evo water circulation pumps.
This is the second generation model and it looks great.
It seems that the third-generation EVO circulation pump has reliability issues that must be addressed. Here are the things I love about it.
The shaftless impeller design is reliable, and it can be coupled with an efficient motor. The impeller creates high volumes of water, but it is not abrasive.
The Evo’s purpose is to move large amounts of water, without power washing your freshwater plants and corals. This is the drawback of traditional powerheads. They are bulky and heavy, produce a lot heat, and blast water in very narrow flow patterns.
The Koralia Evolution circulation pump features a strong cage that prevents debris, snails and plant leaves from getting into the impeller. The pump will continue to work even when a leaf or other algae fragment blocks a section of the cage.
Magnetic mount secures the pump and allows you to aim water flow wherever it is needed in your aquarium.
You can use the pump as a standalone unit or pair it with the Smart Wave Circulation Controller. Two water pumps can be controlled by the controller. There are two types of pump control.
The Alternate mode switches Pump 1 ON to Pump 2 OFF, then Pump 1 OFF to Pump 2 ON. The Synchronous mode switches both pumps on/off simultaneously. You can also choose the time between switching the two modes. It can switch between two modes in five seconds or six hours.
The second-generation lineup includes four models, which are suitable for both nano and full-size reef aquariums.
- Model 600: 600gph Dimensions 2-7/8″x5-3/4″ Rated for 40 to 70 gallons FW, 25-40 SW
- Model 850: 850gph Dimensions 2-7/8″x5-3/4″ Rated for 50-90 Gallons FW, 30-50 SW
- Model 1150: 1,150 GPH, Dimensions 2-7/8″x 5-3/4″, Rated for 70-125 Gallons FW, 45-70 SW
- Model 1500: 1,500gph Dimensions 2-7/8″x5-3/4″ Rated for 90-160 Gallons FW, 55-90 SW
- This is another budget-friendly model, but many love its value.
- It is very simple to set it up.
- It will stay where you place it. Its magnetic suction cup is very effective and vibration-absorbing technology helps to keep it there. It won’t “walk away” from its original place.
- The aquarium is very quiet so it won’t disturb your sleeping patterns when you have it in your bedroom. It will only be audible if you are within 4 inches of the aquarium wall.
- Its compact design makes it easy to fit in any tank.
- You can adjust the direction of the ball joint easily, and even take off the head to clean up.
- It is also very sturdy.
- It can control multiple pumps and is splash-resistant. The controller also includes a hanger that can be mounted on a wall.
- Customer support at Hydor does its job.
- When you turn it on, it makes a clicking sound.
- There are only 2 water movement programs and 1 feeding program.
3. Reef Octopus Octo Pulse Pump
Reef Octopus is well-known for its protein skimmers, return pumps and other features. Now, they are entering the wave pump field.
The Octo Pulse line revolves around a propeller pump that is enclosed in a cage.
The aquarium houses the pump motor. The magnet mount holds it to the glass.
Octo Pulse’s 25-degree adjustment allows for precise aiming in the aquarium. You can rotate the pump body 360 degrees.
These pumps are intended for reef aquarists but can also be used in freshwater aquariums.
The OctoPulse can be wired to a controller with four flow modes. These are Constant, Stream and Tide, as well as Random.
You can increase the flow rate by using the controller. You can set the feeding time to 15, 60, or 120 minutes. There are eight flowrate presets available.
Two Octo Pulse models are available: OP2 or OP4. The OP2 is too powerful to be used in smaller nano-reef aquariums. The Octo Pulse series of circulation pumps has basic features, but no wireless control or advanced programming options.
- Reef Octo Pulse 2 flow rate 845 – 1585 GPH, tank range 21,-80 gallons
- Reef Octo Pulse 4: flowrate 1410 – 4490 GPH; tank range 80-475 Gallons.
- Pump comes with a 2-year warranty
- Bearing and shaft made of ceramic
- Soft-start technology makes it quiet.
- If the pump is jammed, it will shut off.
- Patterns of limited flow
- Wireless control is not possible.
- Manual poorly written.
4. IceCap Gyre Flow Pump
For coral growth to thrive, reef aquariums need constant water supply.
Powerheads and traditional wavemakers focus water flow in a narrow area that only affects small parts of the reef.
Powerheads can sometimes be too strong to come into direct contact with corals. They must be pointed away from the reef and left behind low-flow areas that are stagnant.
The Icecap Gyre Generating Flow Pump utilizes “crossflow technology” in order to circulate large volumes of water throughout the reef without creating high pressure “hot spots” that can damage corals.
The Gyre system circulates aquarium water horizontally across the reef. The waterflow flows from one side to the other and back towards the pump. This is known as a gyreflow pattern. The Gyre Advanced Controller controls the wavemaker.
The OLED display makes it easy to set up and program. The Gyre is pre-programmed to five water movement modes: Constant Speed (requires an additional pump unit), Gradual Pulsing (pulsing), Constant Speed (random pulse), Constant Speed (random pulse), Alternating Gyre).
IceCap also has a 10-minute feeding timer which reduces water flow to your corals. You can program the water pump to increase and decrease over a 24-hour period to mimic tidal flow patterns.
IceCap 2K is recommended for aquariums with 20 to 90+ Gallons. The 4K size is recommended to tanks with 25 to 150+ Gallons.
Also available is the 1K size rated for tanks 20-50+ Gallons.
- Magnetic mounts are easy to place.
- You move a lot of water.
- Hot spots eliminated
- Reflux the reef with water.
- No programming required.
- 24-hour timer feature.
- Mode of feeding.
- Pumps can make a whine sound.
5. EcoTech VorTech Marine Wireless Wavemaker
EcoTech Marine created the first water circulation pump with control that was placed outside the aquarium.
EcoTech has four models of magnetally-coupled propeller pump that are suitable for all aquarium sizes.
The aquarium does not have any electrical wires. Vortech pumps are powered by QuietDrive motors that are magnetically connected to the pump housing.
This engineering feat prevents stray voltage from leaking from submersible pumps and power heads. It prevents heat from being transferred into aquarium water by preventing it from being generated by the drive motor.
This is an excellent feature for nano-aquariums that have a small volume of water but large tanks that require intense lighting.
Vortech pumps include a wireless controller with pre-programmed flow modes. To get the pump up and running, you don’t have to do much other than plug it in.
EcoTech was the first company to develop reef-specific water flow methods.
Water flow modes
EcoTech Vortech pumps come in four sizes
- MP10QD (no WiFi control): flow 1,500+ GPH, tank range 2.5-50+ Gallons
- MP10wQD – Same as MP10QD, but with wireless control
- MP40wQD: Flow 4,500+ GPH, Tank Range: 50-500+ Gallons
- MP60wQD: flow 7,500+ GPH, tank range 120-1,0000+ Gallons
- Made in the USA
- Pennsylvania is the location of customer tech support.
- Made with top-quality materials
- Operation quiet and reliable
- Use EcoSmart Live automation software.
6. Sicce Voyager Power Stream pump
Sicce is a well-known manufacturer of high-quality water pumps for aquarium hobbyists.
Sicce’s Voyager Stream pumps are an innovative take on aquarium circulation pumps. The design is quite distinct from the traditional “caged impeller” circulation pumps.
The water supply point at the business end looks more like a Gatling machinegun than a water pump.
A series of ports are connected to the water outlet in a circular arrangement. Although the ports don’t rotate, they serve a purpose. The pump outlet can be turned to reduce water flow.
What’s the deal? Voyager Stream Pump pumps a large volume of water in a wide flow pattern.
The Voyagers are not like power heads or circulation pumps. They won’t blast water at a tiny spot in your aquarium or reef.
Voyager Stream pumps start in the correct rotation to eliminate any chatter. The magnet through-the-glass mount attaches the pumps to the aquarium.
Sicce relies on strong magnets and high quality rubber to survive saltwater without becoming hardened or brittle. The Pumps can aim at 180 degrees.
Important note. The pump must be cradled in the yoke. Over-tightening the wingnut that holds the pump in place can cause distortion of the pump’s body.
This can result in a clicking sound. Do not tighten the wingnut too much. These water pumps are simple, set-it-and-forget-it models.
They do not have wireless controls or programmed modes. You can however control them using the Sicce Wave Surfer controller . You can adjust water movement by changing intervals, feeding modes of 4 minutes and night mode settings of 8 hours slow-flow.
Three sizes of Sicce Voyager Stream pump are available:
- Voyager2: 800 Gallons Per Hour
- Voyager 3: 1200 Gallons Per Hour
- Voyager 4: 1600 Gallons Per Hour (rated for tanks 125gallons)
- Reliable start-up.
- Good flow rate.
- Uses a basic controller
- 3-year warranty
- All pumps measure 5.95″x3.2″x3.05″
- Too heavy for a tiny nano tank.
7. Aqua Illumination Nero5 Submersible Wave Pump
Aqua Illumination, a manufacturer of reef lighting based in Iowa, has entered the wave-maker marketplace with their Nero 5 product.
The Nero 5 measures only 2.8 inches in width and 2.1 inches in depth.
AI’s water pump slogan is “brains & brawn.” This little pump can produce up to 3,000 gph.
You can dial down the flow to 1%. This tiny pump can be used in either a nano reef of 15-gallon size or a reef aquarium that requires several Nero 5s to move the water.
It is not likely to cause “hot spots” in your aquarium reef. Therefore, I vote yes for brawn.
What about brains? This smart flow pump was an example of AI taking a minimalist approach.
Only one wired connection is required: the power cord. The AI Nero 5 can be controlled via an app.
Good news: You don’t even need an internet connection. The latest Bluetooth LE is used to run the AI app. The new Bluetooth standard eliminates annoying pairing and discovery. MyAI’s smartphone app instantly recognizes the Nero 5.
It is easy to set up. The Nero 5 can be set up immediately from your smartphone.
There are three flow options available. Constant Speed allows you to control the pump speed and is an all-on setting. Pulse produces uniform high and low waves. Random mimics irregular wave action.
Drag and drop functionality allows for simple programming in myAI app. You can customize up to five Nero5 wave pumps. You can also schedule a feeding mode.
These flow patterns were created to look good for reef aquarists who have SPS or LPS corals.
Magnetic mount attaches the Nero 5 to your aquarium. It can be used on aquarium glass up 13mm thick. Rotating the pump allows for precise aiming.
- It is small and can be used anywhere.
- You can adjust the flow to suit small nano reef aquariums.
- MyAI App makes it easy to manage your account.
- Compatible with smart lights and return pumps
- It is quiet.
- For thick aquariums with 15mm glass, magnetic mount may not be strong enough.
8. Maxspect Gyre Wavemaker pump
Maxspect invented the revolutionary gyre pump that changed how we think about water flow in reef tanks.
Modern circulation pumps and powerheads use propeller-style impellers for water movement.
These designs allow water velocity to be stronger close to the pump, but it falls off quickly.
This can cause low-flow areas, particularly in rockwork, to form at the end of the reef tank.
Maxspect XF330 creates a gyre-flow pattern. Unique impeller design forces water horizontally across the aquarium. Wave energy is reflected back to the pump from the opposite side of aquarium. It has been called a “conveyor belt for water”
The Gyre’s impeller is kept in a large cage. This arrangement moves a lot of water, without creating high velocity hot spots that can blast at corals. The big idea is to keep the aquarium’s water moving and not just where the pumps are directed.
Many reef aquarists believe that gyre action is more natural and thorough in flushing their reef tanks. There are four Maxspect gyre pump models: the XF230/XF280/XF330/XF350.
The Gyre Advanced Controller can control all pumps. The 2XXX series controllers are not compatible with the 3XX units, and vice versa.
The OLED display is high-definition and uses color icons. It is easy to program and set up.
The wireless control can be used with both Android and Apple apps.
The Gyre Advanced Controller has five water movement modes (requires 2 pumps): pulsing and gradual pulsing; random pulse; constant speed; alternating gyre.
- XF230: 2100-2300 GPH rated for 25-100 gal tanks, 10″x2.95″x 1.57″.
- XF280: 21,000-22,500 GPH. Rated for 200-1,000 gal tanks, 14.8″x 3.8″x 2.0″
- XF330: 2350 GPH rated for 25-120 gal tanks, 10.5″x2.6″x1.3″
- XF350: 5280 GPH rated for 80-800 gal tanks, 12.8″x3″x1.5″
- Unique gyre water flow.
- This product is for reef aquariums that use live rock and corals.
- Slim profile for the aquarium
- For easy installation, use long cables
- Some aquarists claim they can hear the motor hum when using pulse modes.
- Firmware and reliability issues with the 3XX series.
9. Current USA eFlux Wave Pump Kit
Remote control is available on the eFlux Wave pump.
The eFlux Kits use a quiet, propeller-style wave pump which is controlled by the LOOP Controller.
The wireless feature regulates water flow speed and circulation patterns to mimic natural reef currents.
Wave Pulse Mode simulates the pulsing action of waves.
This pattern is composed of alternating speeds ranging from 0.2 seconds to 7 seconds. The flow can be adjusted from 20% to 100%. Surge Mode simulates surge water currents.
Two wave pumps are synchronized for gyre flow in the Gyre Mode. The Stream/Steady Mode provides a steady flow water current. For coral and fish feeding, the Feed Mode shuts down pumps for 10 minutes. This prevents food from getting into the filter, water overflow, or skimmer.
The LOOP feature is used by the eFlux water pumps. LOOP allows you to control and connect other Current equipment remotely.
- Magnetic mount for easy aim.
- It is easy to set up wireless controllers.
- Pre-programmed wave settings are easy to use.
- Can control multiple water pumps.
- Uses proprietary power plugs.
- Only compatible current water pumps can be controlled
10. Tunze USA NanoStream 6045
Tunze NanoStream circulator pumps have many features that make it stand out from other circulation pumps.
The miniature water pump measures only 2.75 inches in diameter.
Don’t be deceived! NanoStream produces a flow rate of 1189 gph.
Tunze’s water pump uses just seven watts and is extremely energy-efficient.
NanoStream uses a large strainer to intake. This helps to prevent debris, snails, and fish from getting stuck in the impeller.
The strainer reduces the concentration of suction around the intake, so marine life is not pulled into the pump. A flow adjustment and a spherical shape create a three-dimensional water flow.
The NanoStream 6045 will not blast corals from the live rock. The pump can be easily directed and the magnet holder ensures that it is securely attached to the glass. Magnetic holder for circulation pumps is available.
This magnetic holder can be used on glass up to 1/2″ thick. It allows for easy attachment to any position on the aquarium pane.
Tunze NanoStream 6045 can be used in aquariums between 10 – 135 gallons.
- Simple design.
- It is quiet.
- Magnetic mounts that are strong and durable
- Reliable Tunze motor.
- Good flowrate and small size
- Cable length: 6.7 feet
- Controllers are not compatible with the 6045 NanoStream.
11. TAAM Mini Polario 10ML Low Voltage
TAAM is well-known for its Rio water pumps and has now introduced this wave-making circulation pump.
For safety, the Polario series circulators pumps use low voltage.
An automatic controller reverses the flow rate of a pump periodically. The Polario can be used bi-directionally.
The pump produces the same back-and-forth water surges as natural ocean reefs. The Polario system uses only one water pump, instead of two. It simply reverses the impeller rotation of the pump to create opposing water surges.
This program works as follows: Flow settings are 50% power for 5 seconds, 75% power for 5 seconds, 100% power for 5 seconds, and then a 5 second delay.
The opposite side then starts the identical cycle. The flow rate ranges from 1,500 to 2,600g/h. Magnetic mounts are easy to install in any aquarium.
To prevent small fish and snails from getting too close to the pump, you might tighten up the screen.
- Bi-directional outputs mimic the natural currents and waves of the ocean.
- It is quiet.
- Small size – 2.1″x2.4″.
- Programming is not required.
- Wave action can be created by only one water pump
- Fits behind live music
- Wave cycle and flow rate cannot be adjusted.
- Other controllers not compatible
There are many options for in-tank flow pump and wavemakers. It can be difficult to choose the right one. Based on the size and type of your aquarium, I have several suggestions. This will help you choose the right wave and flow pump options for your aquarium.
Nano reef aquariums
One of the best things about nano-sized reef tanks is that you can keep LPS and SPS corals in very small spaces. Problems with properly-sized filters and lighting have been solved. Wave pumps are the same.
The EcoTech Marine MP10QD (No Wireless Control) and the EcoTech Marine M10wQD are the best tiny flow pumps. These pumps are ideal for tanks between 2.5 and 15 gallons. The AI Nero 5, which is a great pump for planted aquariums, is another contender. It is important to be able to adjust the flow of the pump, especially for smaller aquariums.
Planted tanks and reef aquariums of mid-size size
A larger flow pump is required for reef tanks that are between 20 and 65 gallons.
The Maxspect Kyre pumps (2xx-series) have been proven to be reliable and effective. It is easy to move aquarium water and flush across corals and living rock, which is a huge plus. When the water is moving in the right direction, corals will respond positively.
Through the preprogrammed controller, the Maxspect Gyre makes fine-tuning flow patterns very easy. Gyre flow patterns are also attractive for planted aquariums. The gyre reduces the power washing effect of powerheads. The gyre won’t push your plants over by abrasive currents.
Also worth consideration is the Hydor Koralia Evolution pump series. These pumps are based on the traditional point-and-shoot approach to wave makers.
Large reef aquariums
Large tanks containing live rock, LPS and SPS corals, as well as other inverts, require multiple flow pumps to move the water. It is more difficult to create a flow that covers all corners of the reef. This is where the bigger, more powerful wavemakers really shine.
The Sicce Stream Pumps provide plenty of power and don’t have many high-tech features. These pumps may be enough to help you reach your goals.
The EcoTech Vortech pumps, which are larger and more reliable than the smaller models, are perfect for aquarium automation.
Although the AI Nero 5 pumps are relatively new, these small pumps can move a lot. They are small and lightweight, with multi-pump control capabilities. This makes it possible to use multiple Nero 5s without taking up too much space.
You are welcome to share your thoughts and opinions.
We hope that you enjoy our products as much as we do. If you have any questions, or comments, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.