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Which Pond Pump Do I Need? Waterfall, Filter, Solar or Fountain Pump

Choosing a pond pump can be confusing and this is why we suggest that you always contact Bradshaws if you're not sure. We can help and do this in a friendly and efficient way.

Broadly speaking and for the vast majority of garden fish ponds (let's exclude specialist very large koi ponds for the time being) you will need a submersible pump even if you have a waterfall, filter or fountain. By submersible we mean that the pond pump is actually submersed completely in the water close to (not on) the bottom of the pond.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Submersible Pond Pumps

There are many kinds of water features from patio ponds, self contained concrete or resin water features (called fountains in the USA), above ground ponds with or without waterfalls, in ground ponds large and small some of which have fountains and others waterfalls or in fact both. All fish ponds need a pond filter and depending on choice you will  need either a pressure or filter pump or just a pond or fountain pump. These are also called solids handling pumps. Many ponds with larger waterfalls use sump pumps. Some pumps only use solar power to save money. Let's consider each in turn using product ranges that Bradshaws supply ...

Fountain pumps

In the context of this article fountain pumps are those pumps whose principle job is to shoot water into the air in the middle of a pond. These fountains allow a lot of oxygen to be absorbed into the sprayed water and this freshens the pond. In addition to working the fountain jet they also are used (via a valve arrangement) to run a waterfall or pond bio filter. Fountain pumps often have sponges in the suction chamber of the pump and the chamber itself is normally slatted to allow water to flow but prevent oversized solids getting into the pump. Pumps with sponges need regular cleaning since they get blocked with algae so sure that you always allow easy access to this kind of pump to make your life easy. You'll find it useful to tie a stout nylon "rope" or a wire to the pump handle to be able to lift it into and out of the pond safely.

Bradshaws stock 2 ranges ... the top selling UK made Hozelock Cascade low power consumption pumps and the lower cost Lotus Maximus range of pond and fountain pumps. Make a comparison here

Waterfall pumps

There is nothing inherently different between a pond and fountain pump and a waterfall pump except that generally speaking waterfall pumps need more flow and thus tend to be more powerful. The Hozelock Cascade from Lotus Maximus range will serve this function. What is important is to know how to specify a waterfall pump.  By fully understanding how waterfall pumps work in conjunction with pond filters you can save lots of money on pump electric power costs

Filter pumps also called solids handling pumps

Over the last few years major improvements have been made to submersible pond pump impellor designs especially. Pumps that used to have sponges to protect the impellor from damage caused by pond debris can in fact now pump such debris without breaking the impellor. These pumps were developed alongside another big improvement to garden fish pond filters. This was the introduction of small pressurised pond filters like the Hozelock Cyprio Bioforce (this was the first one) or the FishMate pressure filters. Because these filters operate under pressure they need pumps that could develop more "head" or pressure and this prompted better and more efficient impellor design in order to keep pump running costs down. Oase make excellent pressure or solids handling filter pumps and have been seen as the pioneer in this field with their famous Aquamax product range.

Sump pumps

Often called high pressure pumps, sump pumps are easily distinguished from other types of pond pumps by their bottom suction. This is why they are called sump pumps ... they can be used to completely empty sumps or chambers and they can also pump small solids safely. The major drawback is they use lots of electricity to develop the pressure so only for those special high pressure situations are these pumps recommended for normal garden fish ponds..

Solar power pumps

Solar powered pond pumps are generally NOT suitable for fish ponds unless run in conjunction with a normally powered pump to feed the biofilter. We explained in another article why a fish pond must have a bio filter and the water must be pumped through the filter 24 hours per day to ensure the filter bacteria had enough oxygen to survive and do their cleaning job. Since a solar pump only runs during sunny daylight hours (or off a solar charged battery) they not reliable enough to run pond filters. Solar pumps find use as fountain pumps. A big advantage here is the simpler types just float on the water and they don't need any cable attachments.

How To Work Out Running Cost For Any Pump

Most pump manufacturers state the Wattage used by the pump on the box. If not they will certainly provide the amps used on the label attached to the pump body itself. If you do  not see Watts first convert Amps to Watts as follows ...

Amps x Volts = Watts so if your pump uses 2 Amps and the voltage is 220 volts then the Wattage for the pump is approximately 44 Watts.

This also means the pump will consume 44 divided by 1000 units of electricity per hour (1 kWhr = 1 unit).

Here's the formula to work out costs per year

  • Pump runs "H" hours per day

  • Pump power = "W" Watts

  • Cost per unit of power ="C" in pence

  • Cost per year = "Y"

  • Then ... Y=[W/1000 x Hx365 x C/100] in Pounds per year

Obviously if you run the pump for less than 24 hours per day then the total cost will come down but as we've discussed a fish pond must have a bio filter and the water must be pumped through the filter 24 hours per day. Now here's a way to use this information to save money in any fish pond that has a waterfall. In addition it also a good option to make sure your pond always has a viable pond filter.

Connecting Pumps, Filters and Pipes

Connecting the parts of your pond system together is simple. Just look at the outlet size of your pump and the inlet size of your filter (in mm). You will need hose and clips the same size as these measurements. If the pump and filter show that they fit a range of sizes then you should always choose the biggest size that fits both. The larger the hose the more water it will deliver at the other end! Example. Titan 5500 pump (outlet size 20-40mm) connecting to Bioforce Filter (inlet size 20-40mm) would require a 40mm hose, 40mm clips and any other accessories (like taps or linx) would also be for 40mm. You could use a smaller hose but the final flow rate would be lower.

Bradshaws Delivery and Shipping

Shipping is direct to your door from our warehouse and takes approximately 5-7 working days. For deliveries of items under 30kg a charge is made to cover handling and despatch (For Highlands & Islands despatch please phone for delivery and service details). Next day and 48 hour delivery is available in most areas. Please ask your advisor for details on this and other delivery options when placing your order. For single items weighing 30kg or over a charge is applicable, this applies to all products.


If any item does not meet your expectations you may return it within 30 days. Please return it in its original condition, including packaging & obtain proof of return from the carrier. Please ensure faulty products are clean and not contaminated with pond water or mud from your pond. Please note Bradshaws will cover the cost of return for damaged and faulty products. Please call our customer services team before returning an item on 01904 698803, weekdays 8.30am-5.30pm. Remember to include your returns label from your despatch note in your returned parcel. Please state whether you would like a refund or replacement. Your statutory rights are not affected.



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