Fast or Slow your guide to aquarium water flow Blog
Written by Adam Farrelly

Water Has flowed through Rivers and Streams nourishing mankind for centuries, and in an aquarium that same flow is essential to keeping life moving. Attaining the proper flow rate in an aquarium is essential for the long term survival and maintenance of the system.

But how much flow do we need? In todays guide I shall explain why water flow is important, and how to choose and set main Pumps and Wavemakers to suit.

9ft  reef Aquarium

The Main Pump is The Heart

It is generally recommended  for Freshwater aquariums that the main pump be capable of turning over at least four times the aquarium's water volume per hour. Most main pumps for Tropical tanks combine the filtration with the main pump, and will state what size tanks they're suitable for.
 For Marine Tanks, at least ten to twenty times the total volume per hour
For Marine Systems, you should take into account the total volume of the tank,
and multiply this by 10-20 time to work our the max flow rate needed. For my old 200L aquarium, I used a Jecod DCP 2500, which turned over 2500 Litres Per Hour and even came equipped with an external controller.

Corals Love Flow

For corals to be at their best, water movement in the main aquarium should be at an optimum to remove detritus from colonies and keep the corals fully extended without damaging the delicate flesh.

Wavemakers need to be directed in the general direction of the corals and placed in the mid or upper part of the aquarium where the sand cannot be blown around.

DCP 2500 Return Pump

As for the flow characteristics, around 40 times the tank's volume in flow for most corals and around 60+ times for SPS dominated aquariums to prevent tissue recession at the bases of colonies.

Ecotech Vortech MP40qd
Strong controllable
Wavemakers such as the
Ecotech Vortech MP40w QD are fully controllable via a mobile app, and can operate in a variety of modes to simulate a natural reef environment. We use these exclusively on our SPS dominated 9ft display tank!

Our Top Picks For Wavemakers

With so many options out there, you're spoilt for choice. These are our top picks for marine Wavemakers based on our own experience and customer feedback.

Ecotech Vortech MP40w QD

Why we love it...

  • Fully controllable via a mobile app and can operate in a variety of modes to simulate a natural reef environment. We use these exclusively on our SPS dominated 9ft display tank!
  • A dry/wet side magnetic couple means no bulky wires or motors inside the tank.
  • No coral damaging hot spots
  • Can work in tandem with another unit to further improve flow characteristics

Ai Nero 5 Wavemaker

Why it punches above its weight

  • Small, compact design capable of pushing up to 11,365 litres per hour
  • Fully app controllable
  • Affordable

Maxpect jump Gyre Series

Somewhat bulky when it comes to our other picks, but the benefits of its design cannot be underestimated, these include

  • A wide, evenly distributed flow across the entire aquarium.
  • The ability to run in an alternating "gyre" mode, virtually eliminating dead spots altogether.
  • powerful but gentle flow.

Aquascape and Flow

The Scape of any tropical or marine aquarium is important to consider when aiming for an optimal flow pattern in an aquarium. Provide a simple scape with plenty of caves and overhangs, preferably not in contact with the side or rear glass. This will prevent the formation of dead spots, where detritus and nutrients gather and unsightly algae can grow.


Browse All Pumps

We at will always be happy to answer any questions regarding any thing discussed in this blog, as well as any questions regarding water flow. Feel free to contact us via the website or any of our social media links below.


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