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Choosing a Pond Pump for your Pond or Water Feature

Ornamental Pond Backyard pond projects can be rewarding if you give plenty of consideration to design and equipment from the start. To build your dream pond or water feature, one of the biggest and most important investments will be the pump, which will bring your display to life. It is important to invest in the right pond pump for your pond or water feature to ensure that the flow rate is appropriate for your design. If you’re planning on including any type of vertical feature like a waterfall in your plan, be sure you are prepared to add a pump powerful enough to make strong flow for the best impact.

Types of Pumps

Submersible Pumps are designed to operate completely submerged in your pond, and need a constant flow of water while running to keep them from overheating. Many submersible pond pumps include integrated pre-filters or filtration systems, and possibly pond fountain systems.  Submersible pond pumps are very easy to install, however they must be retrieved from the pond to perform maintenance. These pumps are easily concealed on the bottom of the pond, and they won’t disrupt your outdoor activities with unwanted noise or look visually unappealing against your natural display.  Debris handling waterfall pumps are designed for large ponds and for supplying water to vertical features including streams and waterfalls. Unique designs allow these pumps pump at high flow rates and to allow small debris to pass through without damaging internal parts.

External pond pumps are better for large pond installations and offer maximum performance when high flow rates and head pressure are required.  These in-line pumps may take a little more work to install, but generally require less routine maintenanceIn-line pumps are typically used with swimming pool type pressure filter systems, or when constructing large streams or waterfalls.


When you’re ready to choose your pond pump, there are two main points to consider: the size of your pond in gallons and the head height of any feature you may be constructing.  Many ponds feature some kind of stream or waterfall as a focal point and to provide oxygen and water movement to the pond.  Waterfalls can be very dramatic on any pond. A powerful pump will be necessary to carry water from the pond upwards to create the falls. Connecting several ponds together with rippling streams also makes for a stunning display, but may require a good deal of planning and powerful flow to get the desired effect.

You will want a pump with a minimum flow rate of at least half of the total volume of your pond, more if the pond has a waterfall or other feature included. For example, if your pond is 2000 gallons, you’ll need a pump with a flow rate of at least 1000 gph. It is recommended that you buy a larger pump than necessary, as you may choose to add other equipment or features in the future.

First, calculate the size of your pond using one of these formulas:  For round or elliptical features multiply length (ft) x width (ft) x average depth (ft) x 6.5. For rectangular or square ponds multiply length (ft) x width (ft) x average depth (ft) x 7 to get an estimate of volume in gallons. 

Next, consider the head pressure you’ll need to compensate for with the flow rate. Basically, you’ll need to find out how much pressure is necessary to direct the water vertically from the pump to where it comes out at the top of the falls. Head Pressure can be a little confusing, but this article helps to simplify the concept and keep you on track.  

Now that you have the specs you need, you can begin to look at individual brands and styles of pumps to see which will suit your project best. 

Popular Choices

There are hundreds of pumps on the market today, which can make the choice a little daunting. Our top sellers include Pond Mag Drives by Supreme Pondmaster, ProLine Hy-Drive Waterfall pumps, and Seahorse External Pumps.

Mag Drive Utility Pumps are versatile and powerful, perfect for most small and medium fountains, filters or waterfalls. Mag Drives can be used submerged or plumbed in-line for added flexibility. Each mag-drive includes a sponge prefilter to keep the pond pump from sucking in debris, but regular rinsing is a necessity.

Hy-DriveHy-Drive Waterfall Pumps pack a lot of power to tackle larger jobs. These powerhouse pumps feature special vortex propeller designs to move massive water volume. They can be used externally or submerged for versatile applications. Hy-drives also feature clog-resistant, screened enclosures to prevent debris from enterind and keep your pump running at peak efficiency even in “dirty” ponds.

Seahorse Pumps are strictly external and perfect for the largest ponds. These pumps need to be hard wired, but they deliver excellent high-pressure pumping performance. These units are also ideal for operating with external pressurized pond filters like the Ultima II Series.

Good luck with your new and existing pond projects this season, please feel free to post any question in the comments section below.

One comment

  1. avatar
    Pondmaster pool pumps

    Very helpful Post and great article about on Pond Pump. Thanks author your Useful Topic and outstanding Content. Truly I got very valuable information here.

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