Choosing the Right Pump for your Garden Pond

The Cal Stainless Steel and Bronze pump is ideal for small ponds:

The 225T


The 580T



The screen "cage"  prevents clogging while still allowing small nuisance debris to go through the pump so that you are not spending all of your time unclogging a sponge prefilter:


Atlantic Tidal Wave Pumps made very heavy duty with "solids handling" capability and little or no plastic parts. Below is the 5400 gph model. They also come in 3,000 gph, 9,000 gph and 15,500 gph models.

Savio Pumps are a practical choice especially when it comes to easy matching with a Savio Skimmer using Savio’s pre-made "discharge kits".

Discharge kit:

There are two factors for choosing your pump size. First determine your perimeters (Minimum and maximum). Your minimum pump size is determined by the size of your pond. You MUST cycle your pond through the filtration system AT LEAST once every two hours. (Example: a 250 gph pump is the absolute minimum for your 500 gallon pond). The MAXIMUM pump size (flow rate) is determined by your lowest rated piece of equipment. Using the compact skimmer with an 18 watt UVinex for example, the maximum flow rate is 2000 gph.

After determining your minimum and maximum flow rates (with the example we have used so far that would mean choosing something between 250 and 2000gph) you then choose the pump size based on the appearance that you want. Do you want a subtle or dramatic waterfall and how wide will it be?

Using the Savio 16" waterfall weir, for example, your width is about 16" or a little less if you cover the plastic with stone as I would. You will get a typical flow if you use 150 gph per INCH of waterfall width. For a subtle falls use less and for a dramatic falls use about 200 gph per inch of falls width.  So a 2000 gph pump would make a moderate waterfall on example pond. In addition to appearance, always take into consideration the splash control which will also be effected how high the waterfall is.

As far as brands go… I have three favorites.

  • I love the Atlantic Tidal Waves for their incredible durability and solid feel. They are heavy duty but only available in large sizes and should be used where the pump will have to work.
  • I like the Savio brand. They are an above average pump with an above average warranty and are convenient as they have nice pre-made discharge kits that make them a breeze to install.
  • For a very small pond, I like the Cal Bronze and Stainless steel pumps because for their size and gph they are really solid and last well. None of these pumps require a sponge pre-filter as do many smaller mag-drive pumps. Not needing a sponge is a pre-requisite to me. I simply don’t have time to play around washing out a sponge pre filter. If you buy the Cal Bronze and stainless though, I do recommend an optional "screen" (the size of a soft ball) that makes these pumps work really nice. You can buy much cheaper pumps in this size range… I just don’t recommend most of them. 
  • Lastly, if you are looking for electrical efficiency the new generation mag drive pumps such as the pondmaster hy-drive are great pumps at good prices.


Minimum flow rate  

Based on which components

Maximum flow rate

Pond size ¸ by 2

 Pond Size


Manufacturers Guidelines


 Manufacturers Guidelines

Pond size ¸ by 2

 UV Clarifier

 Manufacturers Guidelines

Pond size ¸ by 2


 Manufacturers Guidelines


  Waterfall Weir

 Manufacturers Guidelines


 Other considerations

 splash factor

Example Pond

Minimum flow rate

Based on which components

Maximum flow rate

500 gph

1000 gallon pond 


500 gph / 1800 gph

Compact Skimmer
6" weir / 8.5" weir

1,800 gph / 3,000 gph  

500 gph

18 watt UVinex  

2,000 gph

750 gph

 Ultima 1000

 4,500 gph  

900 gph

Savio 16" waterfall weir

3000 gph

 900 gph

 Good choices are between these

 2000 gph

The pump size could be increased to if a larger UV were used. However if you wanted to use a larger UVinex UV you would also need to choose the full size skimmer as the compact only uses the 18 watt.

There are many good pumps on the market and everybody has there favorites and for their own reasons. I am not big on mag-drives... (except newer hybreds) though they are efficient in electric use, I find the head pressure and durability of the magnetic impellers un-suitable for my taste. Here are three brands of pump I have had good experiences with so far, and why.

Cal Stainless Steel and Bronze Pumps:

For small applications (less than 1200 gallons per hour) I like the Stainless Steel and Bronze pumps by Cal to my liking... they are tough and effective and seem to really give the gph that they claim in any normal circumstance. I always use them with the soft ball sized "cage" (screen to protect inlet) that Cal sells as an optional side. These are my favorite pumps in this size range. They connect to small tubing diameter sizes unless adapted.

Atlantic Tidal Wave Pumps:

Atlantic Tidal Wave Pumps are my new favorite... until proven otherwise they seem to be the best built pump I’ve discovered. They are cast and stainless steel and the incredibly durable. To date I have not had a single one returned defective during the extensive 2 year warrantee period. Now that is impressive! These pumps handle solids up to about the size of a pencil eraser and they come standard with a very heavy 32' power cord. The 3000 and 5400 gallon per hour models have a 2" diameter outlet and the 9000 a 3" outlet and the 15,500 comes with a 4" diameter outlet!

Savio Water Master Clear pumps and Water Master Solids pumps:

My third favorite is for practical reasons... at a good price for the above average quality pump that they are, the Savio line is still a plastic pump withy a pretty conventional design but they have an 18 month warrantee and are convenient with the optional discharge kits to make them so easy to install in the Savio skimmers. They are a great buy.

PondMaster Hy-Drive Pumps and other hybred magdirves:

These relitively new pumps promise to bring the best of all worlds to pumping ponds.

We offer many other pumps as well in our store pages if you have personal favorites besides these favorites of mine.


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