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Aquaponics Pump- What You Need To Know Before Buying

Choosing an Aquaponics Pump can be very confusing!  You start running into abbreviations like GPH and wondering if wattage matters or if the term “lift” really means anything.  Let me clear that all up for you!

First off, GPH means Gallons Per Hour.  This is actually very important.  The rule of thumb is that your entire fish tank should be cycled every hour. If you are on a timer system and have your tank run for only 15 minutes every hour, you need a stronger pump than if you have a continuous flow system.  A large, 300 gallon tank will need to cycle at 300 GPH if run continuously or 1200 GPH if run only 15 minutes every hour.

Knowing the lift is also important because it will effect the overall working of your unit. Most aquaponics pump descriptions state that the GPH rating is based on a 0′ lift.  If your tank is 300 gallons but you are going up an incline of 4′, you need to find a pump that will filter 300 GPH at 4′ rather than at 0′.  Vertical systems are going to need a stronger pump to get the water straight up overhead.  In the scenario of having a 300 gallon fish tank, lets assume that we run continuously at the 4′ lift, we would probably need to have a pump that is rated at around 500 GPH in order to achieve the cycling we are wanting.

Wattage does matter in the long run.  The higher wattage, the more expensive the aquaponics pump will be to run.  Ultimately, you want to get the best unit you can with the lowest wattage because it will save you a lot more money in your electric bills in the long run. If you are stuck between two pumps that work the same, check the wattage and go for the lower wattage requirement.

When shopping for an aquaponics pump you also need to take into consideration the scum buildup created by algae or blockages created by gunk in the water.  This can slow down the performance of your pump.   Typically if you keep your pipes cleaned and check that the filter isn’t clogging up at least once a month, you won’t have to worry about this part.  If you know that blockage is inevitable in your system, consider increasing your GPH a bit to compensate.

Other food for thought- many aquaponics pump setups have varying lengths of cord, consider if you need a 5′ cord or a 16′ cord.  Many pumps have connectors to plastic tubing instead of PVC pipe.  Make sure you know how you are going to connect the pump into your system.  Often, the small pumps are equipped for the plastic tubes where the larger pumps are equipped to attach to PVC.

So, remember- cycle your tank one time per hour, factor in how high the pump is having to drive the water from the sump tank to the fish tank, and then choose the filter that has the lowest wattage available.  I linked to several highly rated pumps on Amazon as examples of the pumps you will be looking for.

Aquaponics Pump with Small Capacity 

PP12005: 120 GPH, Submersible, Hydroponics/Fountain/Pond/Statuary/Aquarium Pump – 5′ Cord

PP21105 : 211 GPH, Submersible, Hydroponics, Aquaponics, Aquarium Pump – 12W

Aquaponics Pump with Large Capacity 

Hydrofarm AAPW400 400-GPH Active Aqua Submersible Pump

Aquaponics Pump with Large Capacity and High Lift

Hydrofarm AAPW800 800-GPH Active Aqua Submersible Pump

Jebao Pond Waterfall Fountain Pump, 1000 GPH, 85-watts


Here is a sweet Info-graphic that sums up the important points! Aquaponics Pumps

Before you throw your fish in, make sure you cycle your tank properly!

Back to 6 Aquaponics Supplies You Almost Forgot

Continue Reading PH Levels in Water and Why They Matter


  1. October 25, 2015    

    hi if i have 235 square feet, 9 ft wide and 16 ft high, how many GPH do i need and what pump is best suitable for my system? Thanks

    • brittabeach brittabeach
      October 26, 2015    

      I’m confused about the information you’ve given me. Are you saying that you need to send water from ground level up 16 feet? That’s a really tall system… If you are saying your grow bed is 9 feet by 16 feet, I need a third dimension. The biggest thing that you would need to know to choose a pump is how many gallons is in your entire system. I can help you figure that out if you have the length, height and width of your grow beds and your fish tank.

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