Wavemakers are indeed some pretty neat and useful items to have in your aquarium. Many people may not really know what they are, plus finding the right one can be a real challenge too. We’re here to talk about everything there is to know about wavemakers, plus we have some good reviews on what we feel are some of the best wavemaker and powerhead options out there.
What Is A Wavemaker And How Does It Work?
Wavemakers are kind of like water pumps, but really special ones at that (this one is our top pick). They tend to combine low pressure and high water volumes in order to create a wave effect. These pumps are usually controlled by digital controls. Generally speaking, a wavemaker will use something called an impeller in order to pump out a high volume of water under low pressure. This helps to create a wave effect, much like the natural ebb and flow motion of the ocean.
|Jebao TW-25 TW Series Wavemaker||Our Top Pick||9.7/10|
|Current USA 6000 eFlux Wave Pump Kit||3 Different Pump Modes||9.5/10|
|Maxspect Gyre XF-230 Kit||Good For Large Tanks||9.5/10|
They are ideal for corals that live in this natural kind of environment. There are wavemakers that can be set to run all day or simply to create surges of water, much like in the ocean. Many people will run a couple of pumps to create timed surges, followed by a period with no surges in order to let the coral feed. These things can usually have more than one pump on a single controller. The real takeaway here is that wavemakers make lots of low pressure waves in order to mimic the natural sway present in an ocean habitat.
What We Think Is The Best Wavemaker For Reef Tanks?
Here is our top pick that from our experience and research we feel is one of the best options.
Jebao TW Series Wavemaker with Controller
This is indeed a great option to go with for several different reasons (You can check the price at Amazon here). This particular wavemaker is great because it does not consume very much energy, making it eco and wallet friendly. However, it is still very powerful and is more than enough for most tanks out there except for the very largest ones. The low voltage power supply that the Jebao Wavemaker uses is safe and secure.
This model is ideal for tanks anywhere from 30 gallons to 60 gallons in size. Better yet is that the flow rate is highly adjustable anywhere from 800 gallons per hour to 1,700 gallons per hour. That is a whole lot of water no doubt. What is really impressive about this model is that it has a 360 degree rotation feature which allows it to turn all around the tank and send waves in all directions.
This thing is adjustable in order to make the best wave for your tank inhabitants. Moreover, it has a feed function, which means the pump will turn off for 10 minutes in order to stop water flow and let coral feed. Also, there is a lock on the control button to stop it from accidentally being pressed when the feed button is turned on. Finally, the Jebao Wavemaker automatically knows when aquarium lights turn off and will decrease the water flow accordingly. Everything you need including the controller and pump comes included here.
- 360 swivel.
- Adjustable from 800 to 1,700 GPH.
- Feed function with safety lock.
- Automatically turns down when lights go off.
- Very durable.
- For tanks up to 60 gallons.
- Fairly energy efficient.
- Easy to mount.
- Fairly loud.
- Motor does not have all that much longevity.
8 Other Powerhead & Wavemaker Options That We Like: Our Reviews
The above wavemaker may be our favorite one, but there are still many other good options to consider, so let’s do that right now!
1. Current USA eFlux Wave Pump Kit
This model features a magnetic mount that can be placed virtually anywhere in the tank, making it very versatile. Moreover, the inside features a swivel head so that you can direct the flow anywhere you want. It features a wave pump hub that can accommodate up to 3 different pumps at once. The propeller wave pump is virtually silent thanks to the silicone padding that absorbs vibrations in order to create a peaceful environment. The pumps can be set to 3 different settings including wave, stream, and surge.
You can also set it to gyre mode to sync 2 pumps to work in unison while the third pump does its own thing. The pump can also be set to feed mode so it turns off for several minutes in order to let your coral feed off of the nutrients in the water. This particular model can pump out up to 660 gallons per hour and the flow can be adjusted to be as low as 20% of the total maximum if necessary. The remote control is wireless for easy use.
- Easy to use magnetic mount.
- Swiveling head for directional adjustment.
- Can be adjusted from 20% to 100% of 660 gallons per hour.
- Wireless remote.
- Feeding function.
- Can handle up to 3 pumps.
- 3 different pumping modes.
- Has a foam filter.
- Fairly quiet.
- Lots of wires involved.
- Can be a pain to set up properly.
2. Maxspect Gyre XF-230 Kit
This one is ideal for very large tanks. This model can pump put between 2,100 and 2,300 gallons of water per hour, making it ideal for tanks over 100 gallons in size. You can turn the power level up or down depending on your needs. This is a unique model as it uses horizontal gyre technology as opposed to classic propellers to produce flow. This is great because it creates maximal horizontal water flow that leaves no dead spots in the water.
There are 5 water movement modes and 6 adjustable flow variables that you can choose between. The turning heads ensure that all areas of the aquarium get some water flow. This item can be easily mounted to aquarium walls with the magnetic mounting feature. While the controller is not wireless, it can be used to control up to 2 different pumps at once, but the second wavemaker pump does need to be purchased separately. All in all, the Maxspect Gyre is a great wavemaker option to consider.
- Ideal for large aquariums up to 100 gallons and more.
- Adjustable flow rate – up to 2,300 gallons per hour.
- Easy to set up and mount.
- Gyre technology which leaves no dead spots in the water.
- Controller can handle 2 pumps at once.
- Easily adjustable for position.
- Lots of choice.
- Fairly loud.
- Lots of wires.
- Too much for a smaller tank.
3. Best Choice Products SunSun JVP-102
This is a very simple yet effective wavemaker. One of the things that people like about this model is that it does not produce much noise or vibration. There are two separate pumps included here, both of which can put out 1,300 gallons of water for a total of 2,600 gallons, making the combined pumps ideal for tanks up to 130 gallons in size.
This pump used classic propeller technology to create a gentle flow of water throughout your aquarium. The suction cup mount is easy to put on any aquarium, plus the head can be swiveled in order to change the direction of the water flow. While this model is very simple, it does work fairly well no doubt.
- Ideal for tanks up to 130 gallons.
- 2 pumps included, 1,300 GPH each.
- Easy to mount suction cups.
- 360 swiveling head to change the water direction.
- Fairly quiet.
- Flow rate is not adjustable.
- Not the most durable items.
- Does not include the controller.
4. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump
This is a pretty simple and effective enough option to consider, one that still gets the job done. This particular model can pump out up to 240 gallons per hour, making it ideal for smaller aquariums. It does have a fairly high flow rate, which is combined with low energy usage to make it economically efficient. It features a magnet suction cup so you can put it anywhere in your tank. The head swivels to make it adjustable in terms of the direction of the water flow. We have covered some cool nano reef tanks here.
- Small and efficient.
- Ideal for aquariums up to 12 gallons in size.
- Adjustable head for flow direction.
- Easy mount magnetic suction cup.
- Does not come with a controller.
- Motor is not all that long lasting.
5. Sicce Voyager 3 Power Stream Pump
This is a very powerful 2,800 to 4,000 gallon per hour wavemaker option. It is ideal for tanks up to 125 gallons in size, which means that it can be used for some very large aquariums indeed. The unique magnetic support allows it to be mounted virtually anywhere in your aquarium. The mount on the inside can swivel horizontally a full 360 degrees and 180 degrees vertically.
It comes with a removable ring that lets you select a wide or narrow water flow. When you buy a compatible controller with it, it can do everything that any other wavemaker can do including wave, stream, and surge mode. Moreover, this model is fairly quiet and only makes a light humming noise when in use. It is quite impressive that this model can be used in both salt and fresh water.
- Ideal for very large aquariums.
- Easy mount magnetic bracket.
- Adjustable in terms of flow direction.
- Can put out up to 4,000 GPH.
- Many functions when combined with a good controller.
- Pretty quiet.
- Loud clicking noise on startup.
- No controller included.
6. Mascarello® Circulation Pump Wave Maker
This is a good option for medium sized tanks. It features dial pumps, each of which create up to 800 gallons of flow per hour for a total of 1,600 gallons per hour. This means that the Mascarello is ideal for tanks up to 80 gallons in size. Moreover, both pump heads can swivel a full 360 degrees so you can control the water flow direction, not to mention that you can set 2 different directions as well.
The magnetic bracket allows you to place this wavemaker virtually anywhere in the aquarium. The submersible and oil free motor with a high water proof rating is ideal for long periods of submersion without creating pollution or hazards. This is a very energy efficient model and when connected to the right controller it can perform a variety of functions.
- Ideal for tanks up to 80 gallons in size.
- Easy mount magnetic bracket.
- Oil free and pollution free motor.
- High safety rating.
- Dual swiveling pump heads.
- Somewhat loud.
- No controller included.
7. Flexzion Aquarium Circulation Pump Wave Maker
Except for the power level and brand name, this model is almost identical to the previous model we just looked at. The Flexzion Wavemaker can put out up to 3,200 gallons of water per hour, making it ideal for aquariums up to 160 gallons in size. It comes with a convenient yet effective suction cup mounting mechanism, making it easy to place anywhere in the tank.
This is a very energy efficient model, one that feature dual pump heads. Each head can be adjusted to face virtually any direction in order to leave no dead spots in the water. If you combine it with a good controller, it will be able to do anything that a good wavemaker can do.
- 3,200 GPH for aquariums up to 160 gallons.
- Dual pump heads – adjustable for direction.
- High safety rating.
- Energy efficient.
- Easy mount suction cups.
- No controller included.
- Somewhat noisy.
8. SongJoy Circulation Wave Maker Water Pump
This model can pump out up to 660 gallons per hour, making it ideal for aquariums up to 33 gallons in size. The magnetic mounting system is easy to set up and very secure once it has been set in place.
This is a single head pumping system where the head can move 360 degrees horizontally so you can change the direction of the flow. The oil free motor gets rid of water pollution, the whole thing is very energy efficient, and it has an extremely high safety rating too. To be clear, this is a 1 speed pump that cannot be connected to a controller.
- Safe to use.
- Easy mount magnets.
- 360 degree swivel for directional changes.
- 660 GPH for a 33 gallon tank.
- Easy to set up.
- Very safe.
- Only 1 speed.
- No controller.
Are Wavemakers And Powerheads The Same Thing?
No, powerheads are slightly different from wavemakers. A powerhead is designed to spit out a very narrow high pressure stream of water. This is opposed to a wavemaker that uses a wider stream of low pressure water. Powerheads are usually a little smaller in size as well. Moreover, these are most often used for directing a stream of water behind rocks, ornaments, or directed at the aquarium glass to be deflected.
Also, whereas wavemakers are designed to be turned on and off in order to make the wave effect, powerheads shoot out a steady stream of water, and thus are not as ideal for ocean environments as wavemakers. Powerheads are usually hung off of the side of the aquarium. Moreover, unlike with wavemakers, powerheads sometimes have trouble with getting the impellers started.
Benefits Of Using A Wavemaker in Your Tank?
Wavemakers are definitely some really useful things to have in your reef or coral tank, and this is true for a variety of reasons.
Why Are Wavemakers So Good For Your Reef or Coral Aquarium? Here Are Some Reasons Why;
Having a wavemaker ensures that your fish will feel comfortable because it helps to mimic their natural environment. This is actually true even if the fish live in a lake, because even lakes have this natural ebb and flow water motion. This helps your fish feel at home as if they were in their own habitat instead of a glass tank. Moreover, it also allows them to swim with and against currents as they do in the wild.
Wavemakers are really beneficial for coral and invertebrates in your tank. Even if you have no animals like fish, the wavemaker can do wonders for coral. The reason for this is because coral cannot move, which means that they can’t go hunting for food. Instead the food has to move towards the coral. This is why a wavemaker is great, because it makes a steady flow of water that will help push food and nutrients towards the coral so they can easily feed. If you don’t have this natural movement of water in the tank, coral will not really be able to feed and will most likely not survive for too long.
Wavemakers are also useful for getting rid of dead spots in the water. Dead spots occur in an area of the tank where there is minimal water movement, and this means that the portion of water in question is not oxygenated well. Of course, fish need oxygen to breathe, so this is not at all a good thing. Wavemakers can help move the water around so that the whole tank is well oxygenated in order for all your fish, animals, and plants in the water to remain alive and healthy.
Wavemakers create currents that will displace waste such as fecal matter from fish and uneaten food. Without this water flow, these wastes would build up in certain areas of the tank, creating a pretty nasty and not so nice to look at area. More or less, wavemakers help spread out waste to make it less visible.
Wavemakers can help make your aquarium look much nicer than it would without one. Aquariums are supposed to be pleasant to look at, calming, and serene. Well, there is nothing more calming than the natural flow of the ocean. Those waves can put anybody to sleep! Simply put, they make your aquarium a much calmer and more visually appealing place.
Important Factors To Consider When Buying A Wavemaker
Of course, if you are going to invest any money in a wavemaker, you want it to be the right one. You don’t want to spend a bunch of money just to realize that you did not get the right one. Here are some of the most important things that you need to look out for before buying any wavemaker.
One of the biggest problems with many aquarium components is that they can be loud. This can be quite annoying in a television room and even more so in your bedroom when you are trying to sleep. Try to look for one that is fairly quiet if you can.
There are a variety of mounting options for wavemakers. These include suction cups, clips, and magnets too. Whatever option you go with, make sure that it is secure and will not fall into or beside the tank. Also, make sure that it is easy to set up.
Your wavemaker should in all reality be adjustable. We mean that you should be able to change the direction of the flow as well as the water pressure that comes out of it. This will help to make your wavemaker more versatile.
Wavemakers usually have two separate components, those being the pump and electric controller. Many come together, but they are also sold separately. If you buy them separately, make sure that they are compatible with one another.
One of the most important things to consider is how much water the pump in question puts out per hour, otherwise known as the turnaround. Generally speaking, you need your wavemaker to put out roughly 20 times as much water as is present in tank. So, if you have a 10 gallon tank, you will need a wavemaker that can pump out around 200 gallons per hour.
Of course, price is a deciding factor for many people. You don’t need to get the most expensive model around, but you also don’t want the cheapest one. Buying a really cheap wavemaker will result in nothing more than a useless paper weight adorning your home.
How To Set up A Wavemaker?
Setting up a wavemaker in your tank is really not all that hard. Simply use the mounting mechanism, whatever it may be, in order to attach the wavemaker to the side/top of your tank. Then, make sure that the intake is in the water and that the pumps are pointing in the direction you need them to be facing.
Now, many people use several water pumps aimed in various directions, and some people even have them facing each other for a really cool effect. You want to make sure that you have no dead spots in the water. This can be fairly difficult and will probably require you to go through quite the lengthy trial and error process. Simply put, you want all parts of your aquarium to be in the path of a wavemaker pump.
Whatever your choice ends up being we hope you have been able to find the best wavemaker and powerhead for your needs and that we helped a bit in the process (this one is our top pick). Just make sure that you make the one that is best for the inhabitants of your aquarium. A good wavemaker can make all of the difference in coral or reef tanks, so you will definitely want to get one at some points. Just do your research in terms of the specs of a certain pump and you will be just fine.