Pond pump selection: Choosing the right type for your garden pond

When it comes to pond pumps its essential to select the correct pump to do the job you need it to do, in this guide we will help you choose the one you need. 

There are dozens of pond pumps available on the market nowadays with different makes and models to choose from, each designed for a specific purpose.

Pond pumps fall into certain categories so you need to understand the difference between each one to make sure you purchase the one that’s most suited to your needs.

What’s your pond pump going to be used for.

A pump is an essential piece of equipment for most ponds as your pond needs movement of water to maintain a healthy, well balance ecosystem, so the first step is to decide what the pumps main function is going to be.

You might be looking for a pump to supply water to a waterfall or fountain or it could be to supply a pond filter. Although most pond pumps could be used for all of these situations not all will be suitable as each of these scenarios requires a slightly different strength of water flow.

So what type of pond pumps are there.

When it comes to the types of pond pumps available we have decided to show you 11 pond pumps that you may or may not need.

Solar pond pumps.

Solar pumps have a solar panel attached to them that convert the suns solar energy into electrical energy that can then run the pump.

When there’s enough sunlight shining on the solar panel the pump will run but stops working when there’s no sunlight hitting the panel, so it’s best to position the solar panel in direct sunlight at the time of day you want the pump to run. 

Some models have batteries where energy is stored, so they can be run when required.

The good thing is that this type of pump is completely cost free to run after the initial purchase and is a good solution if you are looking to go “green”.

One of the main reasons for using a solar pump is they don’t need to be connected to a mains electrical supply, so you don’t have to run cables around your garden to the pump.

The biggest problem with a solar pump is they can’t pump vast amounts of water so are more suited to fountains or spitting features like a fish with a spout coming out of its mouth.

They’re usually to small to feed a waterfall and if you have a pond filter it’s essential to run your pump 24 hours a day which a solar powered pump cant do.

Solar powered water fountains are probably the cheapest and simplest way to add sound and movement to your garden pond and can be used in conjunction with your ponds main pump.

Feature pond pumps.

Solar pumps are often found in standalone water features.

Water feature pumps are designed to operate a small water feature or an ornament such as a spitter, they’re not really suitable to use as a main pump for your pond.

They are relatively cheap to buy and compact, so they can be hidden out of sight and used in shallow reservoirs.

Cheap to run with adjustable flow control so you can alter the flow of water to your feature, most come with a fountain attachment, but they can struggle to move debris so can block quite easily.

Feature pumps come in various sizes and can pump anything from 400 Lph to 3,000 Lph, but they are usually low pressure so the water feature must be situated close to the pump.

They are good for using in a self-contained feature.

Fountain pond pumps.

Fountain pumps are probably the type that most people will be familiar with, they usually have an oval body with a tail pipe sticking out of the top for running a fountain.

There main purpose is to create a decorative fountain display but can also be fitted with a “t” piece which is a flow diverter that can divide the flow of water into two directions.

The use of a second flow outlet means you can run a waterfall as well as your fountain.

For many years these pumps were sold as an all in one pump that could not only run waterfalls and fountains but could also run a pond filter but unfortunately this was not the case.

In order to run as a fountain the filter cage has to have small holes in it to stop large pieces of debris getting through and blocking the fountainhead.

Having small holes is great for stopping your fountainhead from blocking but not good for allowing large pieces of debris that’s found floating in  your ponds water getting to your ponds filter system where it can be removed keeping your pond clear.

There is also the problem of debris building up on the filter cage blocking the pump and affecting its performance which is why it’s better to raise the pump nearer to the surface so its not in the dirtier water lower down in your pond where there could be debris floating about.

In most cases its better to run two pumps, one to supply your filter and this one to run your fountain. You can then turn of the fountain when it’s not needed while still running the pump to the filter.

Read our fountain pump review here

Hybrid fountain pumps.

Hybrid fountain pumps can be used as a fountain or when needed can be used for solid handling.

A normal fountain pump has small holes in its filter cage so it’s not suited to larger solids but a hybrid fountain pump has the ability to close of the smaller holes and replace them with larger holes that can cope with solids.

You can only use one function at a time with this type of pump, so you can either run the pump as a fountain or to take solids to a filter unit.

Myself I would use it as a fountain pump with the knowledge I would have the ability to run it as a solids pump if my main filter pump fails.

All in one pond pumps.

All in one pond pumps consist of a pump and filters in one unit. the pump draws the water from the pond and pumps it through layers of foam filter and bio media.

After going through the filters the water passes through a UVC (ultra violet clarifier) before exiting through a fountain, waterfall, tail pipe or a combination.

This type of pump is very easy to install, there is only one electric supply cable to connect and no hoses to worry about. Just pop it in your pond connect the cable to a power source and your done.

Although all in one pumps are easy to install they are only suitable for smaller ponds or for ponds with a small stock of fish.

Being all in one these pumps are submerged in the water so no filter box or hoses ares required outside of the pond apart from the electric cable making it almost invisible.

Read our all-in-one pond pump review here

Filter pumps.

filter pond pump

A filter pump should be seen as your main pond pump for removing solids, these pumps are the backbone of your pond and keeps the water flowing 24/7.

It gets a bit confusing calling them a filter pump because they are often thought of as a pump that will filter your water, but that’s not the case, its just one component of your filtration system.

They were given this name because the pump could suck out bigger solids and pump them to your filter, there is no filter within the pump.

They have a single outlet which is attached via a hose directly to your filter of your waterfall. The’re not suitable for running fountains so a separate pump would be needed if you did want to have a fountain display.

Although these pumps have to work for long hours the latest developments of pond pumps mean they are able to run year after year, they are very efficient to run and often have long warranties showing that the manufacturers have a lot of faith in their product.

Most filter pumps are designed to handle large particles of waste which are sucked up and pumped through the hose into the filter. This is why they are called filter pumps. They rarely clog and need very little maintenance.

Once the the solids reach the filter they can be restrained by the use of mechanical filtration keeping your pond clean.

You can still use a filter pump to run a waterfall as they can pump the water over a long distance to the waterfalls head or for creating water movement within your pond even if you don’t have a filter system.

Cost to run these pumps can add up because they are run 24/7 so look at the running costs for each pump you are thinking about buying and also look out for the new Eco pumps which are not only cheaper to run but more efficient.

Also look out for filter pumps with a second intlet, these are great if you want to draw water from a different part of your pond.

Read our review on filter pumps here

Varible flow filter pumps.

This is the ultimate filter pump for your pond, you now have the ability of varying the flow rate of your pump at a touch of a button on a digital display unit.

With the digital display you can see how much power your pump is using and if you choose you can turn it up or down.

Having the ability to lower the flow of your water at nightime is a godsend, reducing the flow reduces the noise your pond makes and your neigbours will thank you for it.

During the summer when you pond needs more oxygen you can turn the power up all at the touch of a button.

They can have detectors that turn the pump of if they detect a blockage or the pump has run dry.

This is a great system for piece of mind.

High pressure pumps.

These pressure pumps weren’t designed with ponds in mind but were originally used for pumping out water from flooded areas like basements.

They are made to deposit water a distance away from the flooded area and have a high flow rate to achieve it.

Although not designed for a pond they are great at pumping water over a long distance to a stream or waterfall.

Because they have such a high flow rate you’re able to make a very impressive waterfall with very little loss of flow.

Most models come with a built in float switch that will turn the pump off if the water gets too low due to a damaged hose or water feature which can be a life saver if you have fish in your pond. It also saves the pump from damage.

Although they are cheap to buy they are expensive to run and not really designed to run 24/7 but could be used as a back up pump if your main pump fails.

Surface mounted pumps.

Surface mounted pumps often referred to as dry mounted pumps are situated outside the pond and not submerged in the water.

You need to prime them but once primed they will suck the water from your pond up a hose and then onto your filter or waterfall through another hose.

They are commonly used with gravity fed filter systems where the water is drawn from your pond via a bottom-drain and then out to a filter using the power of gravity rather than being pushed by a pump.

It can be easier to position a surface pump because you only need to feed the suction hose in your pond and not the complete unit like you would with a submersible pump.

Being surface mounted they are easier to maintain but the big drawback is the running cost which is high because they require a much higher wattage to run.

Air pump.

Air pumps or pond aerators as they are often called are a popular method of getting extra dissolved oxygen into your pond.

Any pumped water such as fountains and waterfalls that comes into contact with air becomes oxygenated to some degree but an air pump will pump air directly into your pond through an airline and airstones.

During the summer months you fish often suffer through lack of oxygen and in the winter an air pump can keep the pond from freezing over so they should be used throughout the year.

The air pump sits outside the pond and the airlines with the airstones rest on the bottom of your pond.

The bubbles not only aerate the water but will help discharge harmful gases.

They’re also a good at increasing the water flow in your garden pond.

Solar powered air pumps.

You can get air pumps that are solar powered and these work well in the hot sunny days when your pond needs additional oxygen.

Being solar powered means they only run when the sun hits the solar panel so when the sun goes down your air pump stops working.

Being solar there is no need to run cables to an electricle supply and some come with rechargeable batteries that are charged from the soloar panels or by a mains adaptor, so they can run longer.

You can have solar powered air pumps that sit on the edge of your pond or floating ones that float in your pond.