Finding the best hydroponic water pump might be on the radar for quite a lot of people who want to build their own systems, whether we’re talking about NFT, ebb and flow, drips or aeroponics.
Not to mention that aquaponic systems (a hybrid between hydroponics and aquaculture) also need a water pump to pump up the waste water from the fish into the grow bed where the plants are grown.
Check out my reviews for the best hydroponic water heaters if you’re keeping your reservoirs in a cold room during the winter months. You should keep in mind that the water temp in hydroponic systems must be kept in a range between 65-80 degrees F (18-26C).
Best Hydroponic Water Pump: My 6 Picks
If you are a beginner and this is the first system that you’re going to build, I definitely advise you to go for the cheaper options when it comes to choosing the best hydroponic water pump.
The same goes for those who are just starting small with building a trial aquaponics system.
You can buy the pump online or you can go to an aquarium store if you want to take the direct route and find a cheap water pump. You can definitely use a fish tank pump for hydroponics.
Most home improvement stores have them, too. There are plenty of cheap hydroponic water pumps online, as well. It’s just nice to have more options.
Water pumps are versatile and they can be used for aquariums, hydroponics, ponds, fountains. Actually, a lot of these best hydroponic water pumps are quite affordable and really good, which is always great news.
1. EcoPlus HGC728310 396GPH (Eco-396) – Overall Best
The Eco-396 is one of the most popular hydroponics water pumps. It’s also very versatile. It can be used in hydroponic systems, ponds, aquariums, fountains, and filter systems.
It’s good for all hydroponics systems, aeroponics, and aquaponics. There’s no worry about that and it will fit anyone, as long as they’re not a commercial grower.
It works both with fresh and saltwater, both indoors and outdoors.
It’s pretty obvious that the Eco-396 is really good, truly one of the best.
What should also be obvious, especially after you read this short review, is that this is a product of high quality. It’s made to last, while running 24/7, a feature that becomes obvious after reading users’ reviews.
The first feature to look for when buying a best hydroponic water pump is how powerful it is.
The Eco-396 has a constant water flow, which is imperative in hydroponics and aquaponics. So, this is a good choice as a best water pump for hydroponics and aquaponics.
The EcoPlus HGC728310, at 396GPH, is first and foremost a pretty powerful pump. In order to achieve that, it is driven by a high power rare earth rotor magnet, it’s a magnetic driven pump.
The maximum height is 6.5 feet. The height where the GPH is 0 is 6.89 feet.
Another useful feature is that the electrical parts are fully encapsulated in epoxy resin. There’s also a built-in sponge filter in order to protect the ceramic shaft and impeller.
It’s also one of the easiest to clean.
Easy to operate
It has a 6 feet power cord, which is pretty standard. And it weighs 2 pounds.
In order to ensure the versatility of the Eco-396, there are 6 fittings.
This model has 1 moving part for trouble-free operation. It’s easy to operate, you don’t need to know much about that and it comes with an instructions manual.
You need to make sure that the water lines and the pump are filled with water before turning it on. It should be placed in at least 6 inches of water, at a maximum of 3 feet below surface.
The price is not of the cheapest but it will be worth it for this best hydroponic water pump. Plus, when it comes to its price tag, the Eco-396 is still in the affordable range.
Some reviews state that users will get more than their money’s worth, which is a solid endorsement for any product. Others claim that this model is much better than any other competitors that they have used in their hydroponics systems.
There is not adjustable water flow.
The manufacturer claims that their pumps are quiet and some users agree with that but there are still users who complain about the noise. There are definitely two sides on the matter of how noisy it is.
Another complaint, but not a frequently encountered one, is the length of the extension cord (6 feet power cord). Although it has a pretty standard length, it seems that it’s too short for some but it’s not something mentioned frequently so, I wouldn’t even consider it a proper con.
Where to Buy?
2. Kedsum 880GPH Submersible Pump – Powerful
It’s pretty impressive that the price for the Kedsum 880GPH is almost the same as the price for the Eco-396GPH that I reviewed above.
The expected price for such powerful hydroponic water pumps is close to $100 but this pump manages to be in the same price range as a 400GPH pump.
Just for that, it deserves a more in-depth analysis.
Power & head height
As you might expect, the Kedsum 880GPH is very powerful. It will work for all hydroponics systems and aquaponics.
The maximum head height is 10 feet, a lot higher that most of the models that I recommend in this article. If you feel that you need a powerful model with plenty of GPH and a good maximum head height then you should first check out this Kedsum model.
Even though it’s powerful and it has a high GPH, it’s still a submersible pump that’s more appropriate for small to medium hydroponic systems. It will work for 55+ gallons reservoirs.
It comes with 3 fittings: 0.51 inches, 0.63 inches, and 0.75 inches.
The water flow can be adjusted.
It has quite the versatility. It works in both fresh and salt water and works for aquariums, ponds, fountains, spouts, and hydroponics.
There are not complaints about it being noisy.
The Kedsum 880GPH is just as easy to clean as all the others because it can be easily taken apart, washed off, and then put back together.
It’s unexpected to find a 5.9 feet power cord, the standard in the industry is a 6 feet power cord. But the difference is not that considerable, it’s not a con.
Where to Buy?
3. Hydrofarm AAPW400 400GPH – Good Price & Power
The Hydrofarm AAPW400 ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to finding the best hydroponic water pump. The price is also one of the most affordable among powerful pumps.
It’s absolutely fantastic for hydroponics but it doesn’t work in salt water.
- recommended for 40 gallons reservoirs – if you have a much larger setup, check out the AAPW800 or the most powerful AAPW1000 (which has a really good price for such power)
- works both indoors and outdoors
- it’s a powerful model with 400 GPH
- one of its top features is that it has a nice output, even as the height it has to pump up water to increases
- 400GPH at 0 feet, 300GPH at 2 feet, 200GPH at 4 feet and 100GPH at 6 feet (some models will near 0GPH at this height)
- the maximum head height is pretty impressive, too – 8 feet seems to be that maximum head height
- one of its best features is that you can adjust the flow to fit your desired output – there’s a flow control knob on the front of the pump
- so, Hydrofarm AAPW400 has an adjustable flow that many models don’t have
- includes 2 fittings – 1/2 inches and 3/4 inches
- 6 feet long power cord, just the standard length
- works for all types of hydroponics systems and for aquaponics, it can also be used in aquariums
- it has rubber mounting feet to reduce vibration and I haven’t found any noise complaints
- very easy to clean, it’s the same construction that most best hydroponic water pumps have – they can be easily taken apart, the sponge filter and the impeller can be washed and then put back together again and these two are easily replaceable, as well
- never let the pump run dry
- the price is quite affordable and with all of the features that I mentioned above you can see why this is in the top for the best hydroponic water pump
Where to Buy?
4. Vivosun 800GPH Submersible Pump – The Most Popular
Let’s just review the most popular submersible water pump, the very affordable Vivosun 800GPH.
Power: expectations vs reality
The first thing that you’ll notice about the Vivosun 800GPH is the very high GPH. You’d be expecting to get a powerful submersible water pump. But will you get it?
Well, here’s the thing. This pump only uses 25W, which is quite unexpected because, in general, pumps with 800GPH are expected to consume in the 50-60W range.
So, I will say that you should expect it to be almost as powerful as a 400GPH model.
The manufacturer states that the maximum head height is up to 10 feet. In my opinion, realistic expectations should be in the 6 feet area when it comes to max head height.
If you have a small hydroponic setup, it will be awesome.
It’s also very good for RDWC (the ones where a number of buckets are connected together).
The second thing that you’ll notice at first glance is that this is one of the cheapest best hydroponics water pumps, even a bit more affordable than the 400GPH models.
Depending where you’re buying it from, you might also notice that this is by far the most popular submersible water pump.
And it’s quite nicely appreciated. Some users will describe it as a good, cheap pump if you don’t ask too much of it.
It’s just a good buy for the money, indeed. But I think you should check out other models, even if you are expected to pay a bit more. Hopefully, you only buy a best hydroponic water pump once for quite a few years.
It has quite a shorter power cord than the standard. The cord is only 5 feet long.
This is one of the few best hydroponics water pumps that comes with a 2-year warranty. The other manufacturers usually offer 1 year warranty.
Where to Buy?
5. Simple Deluxe Submersible Water Pump 400 GPH – The Longest Power Cord
There’s one major thing that makes this best hydroponic water pump to stand out from the other models that are featured in this post.
This model has a 15 feet power cord. That’s totally outside of the standard length for power cords in this niche, which is 6 feet. It’s a huge difference.
Pretty much all the other features are similar to the rest of the amazing pumps that have a 400GPH power.
That just means that this is an awesome best hydroponic water pump, of great quality, and with a nice price tag but with a 15 feet power cord to make it stand out.
It’s also really powerful because the manufacturer states that the maximum head height is 8.2 feet. That’s impressive and it makes it a perfect choice for small to medium hydroponics and aquaponics systems.
It works for all types of systems, including aeroponics and aquaponics.
The quality is really high: the impeller is made of aluminum oxide ceramic, which is supposed to be 3 times more durable than stainless steel. It seems that this is another feature that sets it apart from other models.
This unit is definitely made to last and with a very nice attention to details.
The water flow is adjustable with the maximum flow rate of 400GPH.
It also features a pre-filter to that prevents large debris from entering the pump, which most definitely comes in hand in ponds.
The cleaning is completely effortless so, don’t forget about cleaning it in order to prolong its life.
This is a versatile model that can be used in fish tanks, hydroponics, aquaponics, fountains, ponds, statuary, aquariums & inline.
Where to Buy?
6. Aquastore Fountain Pump 400GPH – Cheapest Best Hydroponic Water Pump
This is actually the cheapest best hydroponic water pump on my list but it’s also a really good choice. If you want something under $20 but still pretty powerful, check out the Aquastore Fountain Pump.
- 400GPH – pretty powerful, very good for small systems
- the maximum head height is 6.5 feet, which is to be expected for the 400GPH that it’s capable of at 0 feet
- the GPH decreases the more the height to which it has to pump up water and nutrient solution to increases
- one of the lightest pumps, it only weighs 1.45 pounds
- you can adjust the water flow
- there are 3 fittings: 0.51 inches, 0.62 inches, and 0.75 inches
- 6.2 feet power cord – a bit longer than the average, which is 6 feet
- just as easy to clean as the above models
Where to Buy?
How to Choose the Best Hydroponic Water Pump
There are a few things that you need to be aware of when choosing the best hydroponic water pump for your system.
Obviously, you’re aware or at least suspect that you should never operate any pump without water because that will lead to severe damage.
1. Type: submersible water pumps are the best
Submersible water pumps are the preference if you’re building a system for household use, they fit small-scale requirements but still manage to be quite powerful.
These are the ones whose power is measured in GPH – it stands for gallons per hour.
This type is placed inside the reservoir. They manage to keep themselves cool by using the water they’re immersed in.
Submersible water pumps make the best hydroponic water pump for households.
I chose this type as the focus of my picks for the best water pumps for hydroponics and aquaponics because they fit everyone’s budget, they’re pretty easy to use, easy to install, come with different fittings, and there’s little or no risk of leaks.
They’re perfect for those who want to hydroponically grow crops for household use, those who grow on a smaller scale.
I’m definitely not targeting commercial users, they have better resources than searching online for which type of water pump they should use.
Commercial users go for inline pumps – the heavy duty choice. They’re placed outside the reservoir, keeping themselves cool by making use of air. Their power is measured in horsepower (HP) like a car instead of GPH.
Since the main purpose of my recommendations for the best hydroponic water pump has been focused on submersible water pumps, when I’m talking about power I’m talking about GPH (gallons per hour).
If you want to know the gallons per minute just divide the GPH by 60.
The range is quite considerable when it comes to the GPH that a pump can put out.
However, there’s one thing that I should make clear when it comes to the power that each model is characterized by.
The power mentioned when you check out any model is the power that a water pump has at ground level.
If it states that it’s a submersible water pump of 400GPH than those 400GPH are measured at 0 feet.
The higher we go, the less GPH we will get. The GPH will be smaller at 2 feet, even smaller at 4 feet, and for some models 6 feet or so is their maximum head height.
3. Maximum head height
All models will have a maximum head height. The higher the head height the smaller the GPH is. The power decreases the higher the water has to be pumped up. Different head heights, different power.
The most efficient models are the ones that still manage to put out enough power at high head heights.
The bigger and taller the reservoir, the higher the water has to be pumped up in order to reach the grow bed or to be sent out through the drip lines in the case of drips systems/
You don’t need to go for the highest GPH but it’s still advisable to choose a best water pump for hydroponics of considerable power, especially if you want to expand the size of your system in the future.
Always check out the maximum head height.
4. Determining the needed GPH
For aquariums, you simply multiply the gallons a tank holds with 4. So, if you have a 40 gallons reservoir, you will need at least 160 GPH.
But, in hydroponics, maximum head height is of equal importance and that’s why we go for models with a much higher GPH for a 40 gallons reservoir. We basically double the amount of GPH needed so, 400GPH for 40 gallons tanks sounds good.
Simply put, it’s not that easy to calculate the GPH needed for hydroponic systems as it is to calculate for aquariums.
5. Based on the system you’re building
If it’s mentioned that it works for hydroponics, aquaponics then it will work for all types of hydroponics systems (NFT, ebb and flow, drips, aeroponics).
Aeroponics systems are the ones that require a higher GPH with a higher maximum head height in order to create the needed constant fine mist for the roots, they require enough pressure to create a mist with really tiny droplets.
In order to determine that, we would need to know the pressure rating (PSI) but that’s not usually available in the case of units like the ones I’ve reviewed. Thus, we’re left to judge the capability of a best hydroponic water pump that would work well for aeroponics systems by its maximum head height.
The same goes for drip systems. They also need more water pressure but there are no pressure ratings offered, you can only judge the water pressure from the maximum head height.
A NFT is actually the one with the least demands from a best hydroponic water pump because it only requires a 24/7 constant flow of water and nutrients but it doesn’t have the need for high water pressure.
Those with smaller reservoirs will settle for 400GPH without any problems. Those with a larger set-up will even go for 1000GPH.
Luckily, most manufacturers offer a variety of powers through various models. If you have a preferred manufacturer, you will easily find a lot of power options.
6. Noise level
In general, they’re all pretty quiet. Nevertheless, you can find different opinions for the same best hydroponic water pump with some people saying that it’s quiet, while others think that it’s noisy.
7. Cord length
6 feet power cords are pretty standard but I also reviewed a unit with a 15 feet power cord, there are exceptions.
Cleaning them is easy. They’re made to be taken apart, the sponge filter and the impellers can be washed off and then put back together again. Usually, these are also the replaceable parts.
You can wash the filter screens with soap and water.
9. Using an aquarium pump for hydroponics
You can definitely do that. If you’re just starting with hydroponics and you don’t want to complicate things, just go to an aquarium store and get what they recommend. But still check out my reviews for the best hydroponic water pump so that you know what to expect.
This feature is not something to which people pay a lot of attention to.
The wattage indicates how much electricity a pump consumes. If you want to save on electricity costs, you will go for those with smaller wattage.
Generally, those with smaller wattage (20-30W) have around 400GPH. Those with higher GPH will also have a higher wattage (50W or higher), it’s only to be expected.
The Hydroponics Systems that Use a Water Pump
The hydroponics systems that require the inclusion of a best hydroponic water pump are:
- nutrient film technique NFT
- ebb and flow
Furthermore, pairing up a water pump with a timer pretty much go hand in hand because you need to make sure that the plants are watered at appropriate intervals. A 15-amp timer will work perfectly.
Some water pumps may come with their own timer so, you don’t have to make an additional purchase but most don’t have their own timer.
The nutrient film technique and the ebb and flow systems utilize a best hydroponic water pump in order to pump up the water in the grow bed where the plants are placed.
It’s similar to how aquaponics operates, the difference being that aquaponics uses fish to create the nutrients needed for plant growth.
These are also known as active hydroponics systems because they use a pump to pump up the water to the plants.
Drips make use of the water pump but using it to pump up the water and nutrient solution into the drip lines situated above the plants. The water and nutrients will drip off from above directly on the plants.
In the case of aeroponics, the roots are actually suspended in air and the water pump is used for pumping the water through the misting nozzles.
The Hydroponics Systems that Don’t Use a Water Pump
There are only two such systems, which are also the most basic, the easiest to build and operate:
- deep water culture (DWC) system
- wick system
Instead, these two will benefit a lot from an air pump and an air stone.
They are also known as passive systems because the water and the hydroponic nutrient solution are not sent off through tubing anywhere.
In the case of these two, either the roots are directly submerged in the water and nutrients (DWC) or the roots are fed water and nutrients through the wick. A wick is a felt or cotton wicking strip. An old cotton T-shirt cut into strips works, too.
If you want to go for simple and easy to build and you’re not interested in a system that absolutely requires a best hydroponic water pump, choose between these two.