This post will provide you with a list of the best powerheads for reef tanks, their pros, and cons, as well as recommendations from other reef tank owners who have used them in their tanks.
By reading this article, you’ll be sure to find an option that’s perfect for your needs.
Best Powerhead for Reef Tanks
IceCap Powerhead 2K Gyre Pond Pump, Cross Flow Submersible Water Pump for Aquariums
Best Powerhead for Reef Tank
Innovative Marine Wavelink DC Wavemaker Powerhead
The Wavelink DC Wavemaker Powerhead from Innovative Marine (Buy Online) is the perfect balance between performance and price. This powerful yet quiet wavemaker provides outstanding water circulation in your saltwater aquarium with its 253 to 2300 gallons per hour flow rate.
The Wavelink DC Wavemaker Powerhead from Innovative Marine comes with an adjustable frequency controller that lets you select any mode from 9 preset modes (pulse, sine, surge, stream, turbulent random). You can even link multiple pumps together wirelessly to create a custom system that creates the perfect flow pattern in your reef tank.
hygger Mini Wave Maker Aquarium Magnetic DC Powerhead with LED Display Controller
The hygger Mini DC Powerhead (Buy Online) is the perfect choice for small to medium-sized reef tanks (up to 55 gallons). And its small size makes it easy to hide in your tank without taking away from its effectiveness at producing an optimal current pattern.
This little powerhouse has everything you need to get started on creating a great-looking aquarium including an energy-efficient magnetic propeller and motor, LED display controller with multiple modes, and 24V DC powered controllable wavemaker with auto-off option.
This powerhead has been designed specifically with reef aquariums in mind so you know that you are getting exactly what you need to avoid algae build-up and keep your coral happy. It also features a durable magnetic propeller which makes this product even better than other options on the market today. And this mini powerhead uses only 6 to 20 watts of power, but it has a flow rate of up to 2,600 gallons per hour making it one of the most energy-efficient powerheads available today.
Hydor 12V Koralia Controllable Circulation Pump
The Hydor 12V Koralia Controllable Circulation Pump (Buy Online) is one of the best powerheads for a reef tank. This pump has a variable flow rate of 600 – 1550 GPH which means you can adjust it depending on the needs of your coals and the size of your tank. Plus, this circulation pump is completely silent when starting up and doesn’t have any clicking sounds like some other models do.
If you’re looking for an efficient, silent, and adjustable powerhead that can be mounted magnetically or with suction cups, then look no further than the Hydor 12V Koralia Controllable Circulation Pump.
This pump has been designed specifically for use with Koralia 12V 2-Way or 4-Way systems only. And it comes in three sizes – 900 GPH, 1550 GPH, 3250 GPH – so there’s one that’s sure to be a perfect fit for any size reef tank.
AquaIllumination AI Nero 3 Submersible Wavemaker Pump
The AquaIllumination AI Nero 3 Submersible Wavemaker Pump (Buy Online) is the best powerhead for reef tanks. This pump has a 2000 GPH flow rate and it can be controlled through the MyAI App using a device with Bluetooth connectivity like an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android phone, or tablet. And it’s easy to program this wavemaker as well because it features presets that allow you to set random pulse modes, constant waves, or you can turn it off for scheduled feedings.
This powerhead pump creates an ideal water flow pattern in densely stocked reef tanks that will keep the temperature stable and oxygen levels high, which results in better health for your fish and corals. And when you set this powerhead up properly you will notice an increase in polyp extension as well as a reduction in algae growth.
You can also adjust the modes on this pump to create different types of waves that will help simulate natural ocean conditions or even create more movement if desired. Plus, this wavemaker uses advanced automation control technology so you don’t have to worry about adjusting any settings yourself; just set it up once and let it do all of the work.
CURRENT Dual eFlux Aquarium Circulation Pumps
CURRENT Dual eFlux Aquarium Circulation Pumps (Buy Online) are some of the best powerheads on the market. They have a maximum flow rate of 1,050 gallons per hour and they are fully adjustable. These pumps are virtually silent and include a magnetic swivel mount, LOOP wave pump controller HUB that uses a wireless IR remote control and a micro-USB linking cable.
This dual wave pump bundle from CURRENT has everything you need in an aquarium circulation system at a price point that won’t break the bank. This kit comes with two eFlux Wave Pumps each with a maximum flow rate of 1,050 gallons per hour – perfect for up to 70-gallon reef tanks.
It also includes a LOOP wave pump controller HUB that uses a wireless IR remote control. And it has a fully adjustable flow rate from 0-100%. And you can even sync the pumps as well using the micro-USB linking cable to create complex flow patterns.
And our favorite feature of these powerheads is the magnetic swivel mount which allows you to easily adjust where they are aimed, unlike fixed pumps that can only point in a single direction.
Sicce XStream SDC WiFi Enabled Controllable Wave Pump
The Sicce XStream SDC WiFi Enabled Controllable Wave Pump (Buy Online) has an incredibly energy-efficient motor and is perfect for aquariums up to 160 gallons. It also features a self-cleaning impeller, stainless steel shaft, and 360° magnetic mount.
Plus, you can control this pump with your smartphone, and with just one touch, you can change the speed or turn it off completely. And if you need to clean your tank, all you have to do is press a button on your phone and watch as the impeller automatically cleans itself.
Best of all of the parts inside this pump are easy to remove so it’s simple to clean by hand. And it even has an anti-clog design that prevents debris from getting stuck inside of the impeller chamber.
Jebao RW Series Wavemaker with Controller
The Jebao RW Series Wavemaker with Controller (Buy Online) is one of the best budget powerheads for reef tanks. It has 8 different flow rates from 180 to 2,100gph that will meet your needs whether you have a small or large reef tank.
This pump is easy to install and features an intuitive setup. One thing worth mentioning is this model does work on its own perfectly, but if you have multiple pumps in your tank they will connect wirelessly to other Jebao products using Bluetooth connectivity.
Tunze Turbelle NanoStream Pump
The Tunze Turbelle NanoStream Pump (Buy Online) is a great option if you have a smaller reef tank. This pump combines good looks and high power in a small package, which makes it the perfect choice for smaller tanks or nano reefs. For those who are looking for something that will provide more powerful output at higher volumes, we recommend CURRENT Dual eFlux Aquarium Circulation Pumps. These pumps provide adjustable wave patterns from slow lapping waves to fast crashing surf waves so you can create your desired flow pattern in your reef tank.
Uniclife 3400 GPH Controllable Wavemaker with W-40 Controller
The Uniclife 3400 GPH Controllable Wavemaker with W-40 Controller (Buy Online) has everything you need to create the ideal underwater world for your fish. From a simple control panel, you can adjust the flow speed and frequency of this pump so that it creates multiple waves at different speeds in your tank. This will mimic what would happen naturally in reef environments. Plus, when used correctly, it can help provide oxygenation for fish or keep live corals happy by delivering more food particles their way.
GBGS 40W 3600GPH Smart Wave Circulation Pump with Controller and Magnet Mount, Wave Pump for Reef Tank
The GBGS 40W 3600GPH Powerhead (Buy Online) is an excellent choice for any home reef tank setup. It’s powerful enough to circulate water throughout your entire aquarium and quiet enough so it won’t disturb you while watching TV in another room. This wave maker features 4 different settings, including an adjustable frequency setting and it can be mounted magnetically onto the back of your tank (or sump).
The GBGS 40W 3600GPH Smart Wave Circulation Pump is a powerful and versatile pump that can be used with any type of aquarium, from saltwater to freshwater. This wave circulation pump has been engineered for optimal power efficiency. And it’s compact size allows it to fit in tight spaces without getting in the way, and it has an adjustable speed controller (30%-100%) that will allow you to dial in the perfect flow rate for any type of coral.
Red Sea ReefWave 45 Aquarium Gyre Flow Pump
The Red Sea ReefWave 45 Aquarium Gyre Flow Pump (Buy Online) is the best wavemaker for reef tanks. It has a flow rate of 3960 GPH and consumes 8-45 watts. This pump can be used in any size tank from 2 to 6 feet long. Best of all this gyre flow pump outputs an evenly distributed sheet of water that creates stable natural currents. You can even connect this pump to Wi-Fi through your smartphone or tablet using its built-in controller. And this unit comes with 5 different programmable wave patterns–forward/reverse/alternating flow modes–so you can create almost any type of flow pattern you desire.
IceCap Powerhead 2K Gyre Pond Pump, Cross Flow Submersible Water Pump for Aquariums
The IceCap Powerhead 2K Gyre Pump (Buy Online) will create a linear and even flow throughout your tank, which will help eliminate dead spots in your reef or fish-only tanks. At a maximum capacity of 2000 gallons per hour (gph), this powerhead should be able to handle an aquarium up to 90+ gallons with ease. With only 8-25 watts of electricity needed at max settings, it shouldn’t cost too much on your electric bill either. The pump even includes two sets of propellers – one orange set and one black set – so you can change them out as necessary without having to purchase new ones separately.
How To Choose The Best Powerhead for Reef Tanks
The best powerhead for your reef tank will depend on the type of corals you are trying to grow. If you have soft coral, a powerhead might not be necessary. However, if you have stony or hard coral in your tank, then a powerhead would be beneficial to improve the health of your corals.
The other important thing to remember when picking out a powerhead is how much water it can move per hour, and you want to make sure that you choose a powerhead that is properly sized for your aquarium.
What Size Powerhead for a Reef Tank
The optimal reef tank powerhead flow rate will depend on the type of corals you plan on keeping. However, in general, you want to get a powerhead that is capable of turning over the water in your tank 10 to 50 times an hour.
In a tank that is predominantly populated with LPS corals, you can get away with a powerhead that turns over your tank 10 to 20 times per hour. While an SPS dominant reef tank will require a powerhead that can turn the water over in a tank 20 to 40 times an hour.
Reef Tank Powerhead Placement
A powerhead needs to be placed in the middle section or upper half of a reef tank. Try to avoid placing a powerhead near the bottom of your tank since this can disturb the substrate. Plus, don’t point the current from a powerhead directly at your corals since this can damage their delicate polyps.
The best powerhead for your reef tank depends on the size of the aquarium, your water circulation needs, and what type of coral you are keeping in your tank.
If you’re looking to keep a small-to-medium-sized reef tank that mainly houses LPS corals, then we recommend either the Tunze Turbelle NanoStream Pump or hygger Mini WaveMaker Aquarium Magnetic DC Powerhead. For larger tanks that need higher levels of water flow, we suggest something like a CURRENT Dual eFlux Aquarium Circulation Pump Set.